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Protect Our Care Statement on Idaho Medicaid Expansion Ballot Question Success

Washington, D.C. – After Idaho health care advocates announced that they have collected more than enough signatures to get Medicaid expansion on the ballot this November, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“While Idaho Governor Butch Otter was working to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, the people of Idaho were quietly working to secure a vote on covering 62,000 more of their neighbors by expanding Medicaid. Today they succeeded. Republican-governed states would do well to take heed: when you actively work to make your constituents’ health coverage worse, citizens take matters into their own hands. Congratulations to the people of Idaho, and especially to the committed grassroots activists who secured today’s success. I couldn’t imagine a better way to cap off this year’s Medicaid Awareness Month.”

Exit Poll of AZ-08 Shows Health Care Made Race Close

From: Tom Jensen, Public Policy Polling

To: Interested Parties

Subject: Exit Poll of AZ-08 Shows Health Care Made Race Close

Date: April 24, 2018

Public Policy Polling conducted a telephone exit poll election survey of voters who cast ballots in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District special election yesterday. Voters who voted in the contest were asked about the role of health care in their decision.

In this overwhelmingly Republican district, the exit poll shows that health care was a top priority issue to voters and that they believed Democrats’ views were more in step with theirs on the issue. That’s a big part of why the race was so much closer than expected based on the history of the district.

In 2016, voters in this district backed Donald Trump by 21 points and, in 2012, they backed Mitt Romney by 25 points. GOP Governor Doug Ducey won the district by 27 points in 2014.

Health care was a top issue to voters. Health care was ranked as a top issue for 58% of voters (20% saying it was the most important issue and another 38% saying it was very important). Only 17% said it was not that important or not important at all.

  • Hiral Tipirneni won big especially among voters for whom health care was a top priority. Among voters who said health care was the most important issue for them, Tipirneni beat Lesko 65-33.

On health care, voters said Tipirneni better reflected their views by 2 points (45% to 43%) over Lesko. With independents, that gap widened to 30 points with 57% saying Tipirneni’s health care views were more in line with theirs to only 27% for Lesko.

Voters were less likely to support Lesko because of the Republican health care agenda. Lesko’s support of the Republican health care agenda made 40% of voters less likely to vote for her and only 33% more likely to support her.

Voters in this heavily Republican district disapproved of the Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act by 5 points (49% to 44%).

  • Only 41% of voters think the best path forward on health care is to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to 54% who think it should be kept in place with fixes made to it as necessary.

PPP surveyed 516 AZ-08 voters on April 24th. The margin of error is +/- 4.3%. This survey was a project of Protect Our Care.

Trump Administration Targets Native Americans As GOP War on Health Care Continues

Washington, D.C. – This week, Politico reported that the Trump Administration may impose work requirements on Native Americans who have Medicaid coverage. Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement in response:

“Medicaid work requirements are yet another form of health care sabotage: nothing more, nothing less.  They serve no purpose but to shrink Medicaid enrollment, a goal that President Trump and Republicans continue to pursue through administrative sabotage as well as their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. These requirements are burdensome, unnecessary, and expensive to administer, and now the Trump Administration has decided to target Native Americans’ coverage, marking a new low in their war on health care.  

“Enough already. Medicaid is vital to the health and well-being of vulnerable populations – children, seniors, Americans with disabilities, and Native Americans – who frequently face unique barriers to high-quality health care, and imposing additional barriers upon Native Americans to access health care is mean-spirited and wrong. We urge Congress and the American people to speak out against President Trump’s ongoing war on health care and ensure that policies like these are reversed or don’t see the light of day in the first place.”  

BACKGROUND

This Is Not The Trump Administration’s First Attack On Native Americans’ Health: “The Trump administration also targeted the Indian Health Service for significant cuts in last year’s budget, though Congress ignored those cuts in its omnibus funding package last month, H.R. 1625 (115). The White House budget this year proposed eliminating popular initiatives like the decades-old community health representative program — even though tribal health officials say it is essential.” [Politico, 4/22/18]

Caitrin McCarron Shuy, Indian National Health Board: “It’s Very Troublesome.” “‘It’s very troublesome,’ said Caitrin McCarron Shuy of the National Indian Health Board, noting that Native Americans suffer from the nation’s highest drug overdose death rates, among other health concerns. ‘There’s high unemployment in Indian country, and it’s going to create a barrier to accessing necessary Medicaid services.’” [Politico, 4/22/18]

Trump Admin Should Listen to Overwhelming Opposition & Scrap Its Junk Plan Proposal

Washington, D.C. – As an outpouring of public opposition marked today’s junk plan proposal comment deadline, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Over the past two months, Americans have clearly rejected the Trump Administration’s junk plan proposal because it would move our health care in exactly the wrong direction. We don’t want to go back to the days when insurance companies could charge more for pre-existing conditions or deny coverage altogether and when junk plans didn’t have to cover basic medical services. This rule has drawn criticism from over one hundred prominent disease groups, from the AARP, from doctors and providers, and from thousands of everyday Americans. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has confirmed that it would raise rates on the one-in-four Americans with a pre-existing condition. The Trump Administration should listen to the experts, doctors, insurance commissioners, and individual advocates who have together formed a tidal wave of opposition to junk plans, and withdraw this dangerous proposal.”

EXPERTS REJECT PROPOSAL

113 Groups Plead For Congress To Block Trump Administration’s Expansion Of Short-Term Health Plans: “While short-term plans can offer less expensive coverage, they are not required to adhere to important standards, including the ten essential health benefit categories, guaranteed issue, out-of-pocket maximums, age-rating protections, and many other critical consumer protections,” the groups, including the American Heart Association, Susan G. Komen, and Justice in Aging, said in an April 17 letter (PDF) to congressional leaders. [Fierce Healthcare, 4/18/18]

AARP Warning: Short-Term Health Plans = Higher Premiums for Older Adults: You might have thought that efforts to unravel the Affordable Care Act (ACA) were over, but newly proposed regulations and legislation are once again threatening to have similar harmful effects for older adults ages 50-64 who rely on individual market coverage. [AARP Blog, 3/21/18]

National Association of Insurance Commissioners Report: “Risk pool segmentation has the obvious effect of driving up premiums in the health plans that protect individuals from health status discrimination.” [NAIC, 3/22/18]

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Insurers could reduce or eliminate certain essential health benefits to avoid vulnerable, expensive patients by excluding specific services.” [Forbes, 4/22/18]

American Medical Association: “We believe the proposed rule, however, would culminate in plans being offered that fall far short of maintaining crucial state and federal patient protections, disrupt and destabilize the individual health insurance markets, and result in substandard, inadequate health insurance coverage.” [Forbes, 4/22/18]

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP): “Because many short-term plans are offered to consumers only after submitting information about their health status or prior medical conditions, we must also recognize that short-term plans will not meet the needs of many Americans with pre-existing health conditions.” [AHIP letter, 4/20/18]

This Week in the War on Health Care

While Americans paid up on Tax Day, Republicans continued their unprecedented assault on the American health care system. Here’s what happened this week in the war on health care – plus two stories you should be sure to read:

TRUMP’S TAX DAY: TAX BREAKS FOR THE RICH, HIGHER HEALTH CARE COSTS FOR YOU

On Tax Day, as millions of Americans worry that their health care costs are expected to increase by double digits because of the Republican tax bill, wealthy insurers were celebrating huge tax breaks thanks to President Trump and Congressional Republicans. As the Washington Post reported:

“The tax overhaul certainly unlocked more profits for the industry. It not only lowered the domestic corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, a huge boon to insurers and pharmacy benefit managers, but it also enticed drug and biotech companies to bring home huge overseas cash reserves by slashing taxes on those earnings, too. Pfizer, which has been mentioned as a potential buyer of Shire, announced an extra $10.7 billion in reported income for 2017 because of the tax changes. Allergan, UnitedHealth and Anthem have also recorded a benefit from the tax overhaul, according to a recent analysis by Bloomberg. Indeed, all five major U.S. health insurers have announced the tax overhaul will increase their revenue this year.”

But, for people who work for a living, the TrumpTax means higher health care costs:

  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that the premiums will go up 10% each year because of the TrumpTax.
  • A recent Urban Institute Urban study found that premiums are expected to rise 18.3% due to actions taken by the Trump Administration.
  • And an analysis from by Covered California projected that premiums could rise as much as 90% due to the Trump Administration’s sabotage campaign.
  • 20 Americans will lose their coverage for each millionaire’s tax break.

Every American who sees their health care costs go up should remember that their rising health care costs were brought to them courtesy of Donald Trump and the GOP.

PRESIDENT TRUMP VOWS HIS ADMINISTRATION WILL CONTINUE SABOTAGING ACA

On Monday in Florida, President Trump vowed to continue his sabotage campaign against the Affordable Care Act, saying the GOP’s tax bill brought about “the end of Obamacare” and expressing his support for proposed association health plans, calling them “tremendous insurance.”

He left out the fact that his war on our care already threatens millions of Americans’ insurance, is raising premiums double-digits for millions more, and has seriously damaged the individual market – and that his response has been to embrace junk insurance scams like association health plans, which have a history of fraud and have been condemned by experts across the country.

KOCH BROTHERS LAUNCH LATEST ANTI-CARE SALVO IN MONTANA

In Montana, Americans for Prosperity released a new, misleading ad against Sen. Jon Tester. They forgot to mention that because their Republican allies in Congress have been waging a war on health care that will raise costs, take away coverage, and gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions, Montana families will see their premiums go up an average of $2,100 this fall and 46,000 Montanans could lose coverage altogether.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: HOW TRUMP’S OBAMACARE ADMINISTRATOR IS TAKING A HATCHET TO OBAMACARE

Another Administration official responsible for Americans’ rising health care costs? CMS Administrator Seema Verma. Here’s the Los Angeles Times’ Michael Hilktzik:

It’s been well documented that the Trump White House has filled federal agencies with bureaucrats whose life work is destroying the very agencies they’ve been assigned to. But one is in a better position than her fellows to threaten the health of millions of Americans—and she’s been working at that assiduously. We’re talking about Seema Verma, who as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also is effectively the administrator of the Affordable Care Act. In the Trump administration, that has made her the point person for the Trump campaign to dismantle the act, preferably behind the scenes…

Verma never has concealed her hostility to Medicaid — especially Medicaid expansion, a provision of the ACA. Her animosity is fueled at least in part by ignorance (willful or otherwise) about the program. Back in November, on the very day that voters in Maine and Virginia were demonstrating full-throated support at the polls for expanding Medicaid in their states, Verma was unspooling a string of misleading statistics and suspect assertions about the program to support a policy of rolling back enrollment. Badmouthing Medicaid is pretty much the opposite of what a Medicaid administrator should be doing. It’s worse when there’s so little truth to the attack… Last month, after her superiors at the Department of Health and Human Services nixed an Idaho plan to eviscerate the ACA’s mandate of essential health benefits, she suggested to Idaho officials how they could circumvent the ACA’s mandate without being too obvious about it. She has cleared Kentucky to impose work requirements on Medicaid applicants, a historic first that is probably illegal and almost sure to drive as many as 300,000 enrollees out of the program in the very first year…

Republicans in Congress didn’t have the votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, so they’ve taken to underhanded stunts to try to accomplish the same thing, with Trump’s help. Their actions include effectively eliminating the individual mandate, which will guarantee that the pool of ACA enrollees will be sicker next year than last year, driving up costs; and promoting cheaper, skimpier short-term health plans, which will leave their policyholders without crucial coverage or consumer protections just at the point they need these benefits for their health, while also draining healthier enrollees from full-benefit ACA plans.

These actions will almost certainly lead to a spike in premiums for 2019. “It’s just still a nasty soup right now that’s brewing,” Matt Eyles, a top executive at America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry lobbying arm, warned at a Washington conference last week. Trump and his fellow Republicans will be entirely responsible for the fallout, but they’ll have Seema Verma to thank for running interference.

SPOKESMAN-REVIEW: MCMORRIS RODGERS HAS TROUBLES WITH THE TRUTH ON PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

And another Republican responsible for Americans’ rising health care costs? Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Here’s the Spokesman-Review’s Shawn Vestal:

“If it’s April, it must be time for Cathy McMorris Rodgers to start telling whoppers about health care. A year ago at this time, McMorris Rodgers tied herself in knots trying to justify her vote for the American Health Care Act, the failed effort to replace Obamacare. Just a few months before that vote, after all, she had co-sponsored legislation that would have prohibited something that the AHCA would allow: charging sick people more for insurance… Three months later, she voted for the AHCA, which would have allowed insurers to do just that in some cases. She was against it before she was for it…

The AHCA is dead and buried, but McMorris Rodgers is sticking to her story. Last week, in an interview on KREM, she was asked, “And so you would not vote for legislation that did not have protection for those with pre-existing conditions? She said, “Right. And I haven’t.” Which seems like the wrong answer, given that she voted for a bill that would have allowed states to charge some sick people more money for being sick…

Health care politics is complicated. Politicians can mislead by simply saying the humane-sounding thing and hoping no one pays attention to the details. McMorris Rodgers has said all along that she supports protecting people with pre-existing conditions. It’s a top priority, she says. A fundamental principle. She has said all along: She opposes charging sick people more for health insurance. She said it when sponsoring a law to outlaw the practice. And she said it when voting to allow it.

Koch Brothers Launch Latest Salvo in the Republican War on Montanans’ Care

Washington, D.C. – In response to Americans for Prosperity releasing a new, misleading ad against Sen. Jon Tester, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“The Koch Brothers and their Republican allies in Congress have been waging a war on health care that will raise our costs, take away coverage, and gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Thanks to the Republican tax bill, pharmaceutical and insurance companies are getting billions of dollars in tax breaks while many Montana families will see their premiums go up an average of $2,100 this fall, and 46,000 Montanans could lose coverage altogether. Enough is enough: it’s time for the Koch brothers and their allies in Congress to stop their war on Montanans’ health care.”

BACKGROUND

INSURANCE COMPANIES AND PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES GET BILLIONS OF DOLLARS FROM THE REPUBLICAN TAX BILL

The Republican Tax Bill Is A $10 Billion Giveaway For Insurance Companies.  An Axios analysis found 21 health insurance companies collectively expected to gain $10 billion in tax breaks in 2018 alone. Most of the money is being used for buybacks, dividends, acquisitions and paying down debt — with just a sliver for one-time employee bonuses, research and internal investments. [Axios, 3/5/18]

The Republican Tax Bill Is A $50 Billion Windfall For Pharmaceutical Companies.  According to an Axios analysis, the pharmaceutical industry is using a large portion of its savings from the Republican corporate tax break to boost its stock prices. Nine drug companies are spending a combined $50 billion on new share buyback programs, far outstripping investments in employees or drug research and development. [Axios, 2/22/18]

THE REPUBLICAN TAX BILL WILL RAISE PREMIUMS AND TAKE COVERAGE AWAY FROM MONTANANS

The Republican Tax Bill Means Higher Costs, Especially for Older Montanans. A Center for American Progress estimate shows that in Montana, family premiums in the marketplace will increase on average by $2,100 in 2019. Older Montanans would not be spared. The AARP estimates a 64-year-old in Montana will have to pay $1,551 more in premiums because of health repeal, essentially an age tax for people over 50. [Center for American Progress, 11/16/17, AARP, 11/21/17]

The GOP Tax Bill Will Cost 46,000 Montanans Their Health Coverage. As a result of the tax bill, an estimated 46,000 Montanans will lose coverage by 2025. [Center for American Progress, 11/16/17]

REPUBLICAN SABOTAGE WILL RAISE THE COST OF HEALTH CARE FOR MONTANANS

Urban Institute: Premiums For Montanans Will Increase An Average Of 19.8 Percent Next Year. An Urban Institute study found that, “the actions President Trump and Congressional Republicans have taken to sabotage the health care markets will artificially inflate individual insurance premiums by an average of 19.8 percent in Montana for 2019.” [Urban Institute, 3/14/18]

Iowa Republicans Prioritize Insurance Company Profits Over Iowans’ Health

In response to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signing legislation which allows for the sale of association health plans and ‘benefit plans’ which don’t meet Affordable Care Act requirements, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach released the following statement:

“The legislation takes Iowa back to the days when insurance companies could discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and refuse to cover essential health benefits like maternity care and prescription drugs, paving the way for even higher premiums and further market destabilization. This legislation will allow insurance companies to sell junk plans without proper oversight – precisely the kind of abuses the Affordable Care Act was designed to stop.

BACKGROUND

Protect Our Care [3/30/18]: Association Health Plans Endanger Consumers

Washington Post [4/2/18]Iowa tries another end run around the Affordable Care Act
As a growing number of Republican-led states look for end runs around the Affordable Care Act, Iowa is embracing a strategy that contends not all health plans are actually health insurance. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) is scheduled Monday to sign into law a bill allowing the century-old Iowa Farm Bureau to collaborate with the state’s dominant insurer to sell “health benefit plans,” which are expected to cost health customers less than ACA coverage because they will not have to comply with federal requirements.

Pew Poll: Health Care Is The #1 Pocketbook Issue for American Families

Today, the Pew Research Center released a new survey that finds the number-one pocketbook issue for Americans of all income brackets is health care, confirming the vital importance of this issue to American families. The new data echoes a body of recent polling that indicates health care is a top issue heading into the 2018 midterm elections.

Key findings include:

  • More than half of those surveyed said that health care affects their household’s financial situation “a lot,” the only issue which more than half of Americans rated a key economic issue.

  • Health care is “a top household financial issue” across all income levels, with 53% of those earning more than $100,000 and 52% of those earning $30,000 or less saying it has a large effect.

 

Four Studies, Three Polls, One Conclusion: Americans Support the ACA, Are Fed Up With Trump’s Sabotage

It’s been a busy week for health care. Three polls – from CNN, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and then President Trump’s very own America First Policies – came out, all of which had similar and striking conclusions. Four studies – from the Urban Institute, Avalere, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the Commonwealth Fund – also came out, and too came to a similar conclusion. What did the analyses of the week show?

WHAT THE POLLS FOUND: ACA MORE POPULAR THAN EVER, VOTERS OVERWHELMINGLY OPPOSE ADMINISTRATION POLICIES

Last night, a new poll from President Trump’s own organization, America First Policies, confirmed that health care is the top issue to voters – and they don’t support the Trump Administration’s repeal and sabotage agenda. Trump’s polling found:

  • By 17 points, voters DISAPPROVE of Trump’s “handling of health care” with only 38% approving (16% strongly) and 55% disapproving (44% strongly).
  • A plurality of voters (41%) said the top priority for the President and Congress should be lowering health care costs.
  • Among those 41% who name lowering health care costs a the top priority, 68% want Congress to leave the ACA as is or work to fix it. Only 31% support the GOP repeal agenda.  

The America First poll followed the earlier release of the Kaiser February tracking poll, which found 54% of those surveyed holding a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act, the highest proportion supporting the ACA in the nine years the poll has been conducted. The poll also found:

  • The ACA favorable view rose from 50 percent in January 2018 to 54 percent this month, a change “largely driven by independents.
  • More than twice as many voters mention health care costs (22 percent) as mention repealing/opposing the ACA (7 percent) as the top health care issue.
  • 74% of those surveyed had a favorable opinion of Medicaid, while 52% believed the Medicaid program is working well for most low-income people covered by the program.
  • 64% of independents oppose lifetime limits for Medicaid benefits.
  • A larger share of the public believes the proposed Medicaid changes are to reduce government spending (41 percent) than to help lift people out of poverty (33 percent).

And both of these followed a Tuesday CNN poll which found health care remains voters’ top priority, with 83% of those surveyed listing it as either extremely or very important. Other findings included:

  • 53% of voters said health care was extremely important, the highest among all issues – a 20% increase from the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted in August of 2010, when health care supposedly dominated the midterm elections.
  • 78% of independent voters said health care was important, which tied with the economy as their top issue.
  • At least 70% of voters in every demographic category said health care was important – a trend that stretches across gender, age, income level, education level, ideology, and party affiliation.

Americans support the Affordable Care Act because it works to bring down costs, expand coverage, and protect the most vulnerable among us. They oppose the GOP’s repeal and sabotage plan because it does the opposite. Four studies this week confirmed this.

WHAT THE STUDIES SHOW: COSTS UP, COVERAGE DOWN

Last week, the Trump Administration announced a proposal to move forward with short-term, junk insurance plans – the Administration’s latest form of sabotage.

  • On Monday, a bombshell Urban Institute study found that these short-term junk plans will cause an average premium increase of 18 percent in 43 states, making clear just how high the cost of the GOP’s sabotage efforts will be for Americans.

Last month, the Department of Labor proposed a rule promoting association health plans (AHPs).

  • On Wednesday, Avalere released a new study which found that this proposed rule would cause premiums for individual and small-group plans to rise 4% and reduce Affordable Care Act plans enrollment by as many as 4.3 million, further destabilizing the marketplace.

On Wednesday, President Trump hosted a White House summit to address the opioid crisis, just weeks after releasing a budget which called for vast cuts to Medicaid.

  • That day, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released an analysis showing that states which expanded Medicaid saw higher rates of insurance coverage for people with opioid-use disorders.

And throughout his time in office, President Trump and his GOP allies in Congress have been carrying out an extensive sabotage campaign designed to harm the ACA.

  • A new report from the Commonwealth Fund analyzed the effects on consumer confidence, finding that among those worried about maintaining their coverage in the future, “nearly half pointed to actions by the Trump administration and Congress as the main source of their unease.” Moreover, the report found that of the individuals who did not purchase insurance last year, 26 percent of those said they did not because they thought the law was going to be repealed, underscoring the effects this sabotage campaign has had.
  • The report did offer some steps to move forward: “As our findings suggest, policy changes could increase coverage, including greater outreach and advertising in all states and reforms to improve plan affordability.” The most specific suggestion: Medicaid expansion “remains the most obvious means for expanding coverage nationwide.”

All in all, Americans continued to make their voices heard loud and clear: they support the Affordable Care Act and want it to be improved and expanded, not undercut by a GOP sabotage effort from President Trump and Republicans in Congress. As for that sabotage effort? Study after study has found that its effects have been nothing short of disastrous for the American health care system. Will President Trump and Congressional Republicans ever get their act together on health care and finally embrace what the vast majority of Americans say they want? Well, there are a few polls they can read…

“Consumers Really Want Coverage”: Nearly 12 Million Americans Sign Up For Marketplace Plans Despite Rampant Obstacles

Meta Capitol

Despite more than a year of sabotage from President Donald Trump, his Administration, and Congressional Republicans, it was announced today that 11.8 million Americans purchased 2018 health insurance through Affordable Care Act marketplaces — 96% of last year’s total. These Americans did so in the face of rampant obstacles put in their way, from a shortened sign-up period to the President declaring the law ‘dead,’ and did so for one reason: they want and need quality, affordable coverage.

Overall, the open enrollment period this year was a resounding success that proved the skeptics wrong. Don’t believe us? Take a look for yourself…

NBC News: “Despite Trump, Obamacare Records Strong Enrollment.” [NBC News, 2/7/18]

Josh Peck, Former HealthCare.Gov CMO: “Without The Trump Administration’s Efforts To Undermine Enrollment, National Enrollment Would Have Exceeded 12.9 Million Enrollments Or Roughly 1.1 Million Additional People Would Have Enrolled.” [Get America Covered, 2/8/17]

Kaiser Family Foundation: 11.8 Million People Signed Up “Amid Steep Reductions In Federal Funding For Outreach In Navigators, An Enrollment Period Half As Long, And A Climate Of Political Uncertainty Surrounding The Law.” “11,760,418 people signed up for 2018 health insurance coverage on the ACA individual marketplaces, amid steep reductions in federal funding for outreach and navigators, an enrollment period half as long, and a climate of political uncertainty surrounding the law. The federal government also terminated cost-sharing subsidy payments to insurers in advance of the open enrollment period, leading to increases in premiums but also increased premium subsidies for many consumers that in some cases led to reductions in what they had to pay for coverage.” [KHN, 2/7/18]

Los Angeles Times: The Numbers “Suggest Surprising Strength In Many Markets Across The Country.” “Almost 12 million Americans signed up for 2018 health coverage through marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act, according to a new tally that indicates nationwide enrollment remained virtually unchanged from last year despite President Trump’s persistent attacks on the 2010 health law. The new enrollment numbers — which include totals from California and other states that operate their own marketplaces, as well as states that rely on the federal HealthCare.gov marketplace — offer the most detailed picture to date of the insurance markets. And they suggest surprising strength in many markets across the country, with consumers steadily signing up for health plans even as Trump and his Republican congressional allies derided the markets as crumbling and unaffordable.” [Los Angeles Times, 2/7/18]

Bloomberg: “President Donald Trump Has Frequently Been Accused Of Trying To Undermine Obamacare, His Predecessor’s Signature Health Law. New Data Show That By At Least One Measure He Didn’t Do A Particularly Good Job Of It.” President Donald Trump has frequently been accused of trying to undermine Obamacare, his predecessor’s signature health law. New data show that by at least one measure he didn’t do a particularly good job of it. Enrollment in individual health-insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act fell 3.7 percent in 2018 to 11.8 million, from 12.2 million a year earlier, according to data compiled by the National Academy for State Health Policy, which calls itself a nonprofit, nonpartisan association of state health-policy makers. That’s a far smaller drop than some health-policy watchers had foreseen, after the Trump administration halved the enrollment season and cut marketing and enrollment-assistance efforts. Trump himself declared the law ‘dead.’” [Bloomberg, 2/718]

Trish RIley, National Academy For State Health Policy Executive Director: “This Shows Consumers Really Want And Need Coverage.” “‘This shows that consumers really want and need coverage,’ said Trish Riley, executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, which compiled the nationwide enrollment tally. ‘These are stable markets and a stable program,’ she said.”  [Los Angeles Times, 2/7/18]

Allison O’Toole, MNSure Chief Executive: “We Had The Best Open Enrollment Period We Have Ever Had.” “‘We had the best open enrollment period we have ever had,’ said Allison O’Toole, chief executive of Minnesota’s insurance marketplace, known as MNsure, which saw enrollment surge nearly 6% this year. Elected officials in Minnesota developed their own reinsurance system to help control premiums this year.” [Los Angeles Times, 2/7/18]

Washington Post: “Enrollment Was Surprisingly Resilient.” “With the Trump administration taking steps to undercut these marketplaces and congressional Republicans having spent much of last year trying unsuccessfully to dismantle large parts of the ACA, leaders of state insurance exchanges and other health-policy experts said that enrollment was surprisingly resilient.” [Washington Post, 2/7/18]

The Hill: The Numbers “Show The Obamacare Remains Stable In The Face Of ‘National Uncertainty.’” “Experts and advocates of ObamaCare had expected a bigger drop in enrollment, mainly due to attacks on the system from the Trump White House. The administration slashed the advertising budget for open enrollment by 90 percent and also cut funds for local groups that help people sign up for coverage.  Experts also worried that multiple attempts by congressional Republicans to repeal and replace the law could cause confusion and deter consumers from signing up… The final numbers released Wednesday, however, show the ObamaCare remains stable in the face of ‘national uncertainty,’ says the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP), the group that released the numbers. ‘For the first time we now have the full national picture of how the individual marketplaces did this year and it is a picture of remarkable stability,’ said Trish Riley, executive director of NASHP.” [The Hill, 2/7/18]

Associated Press: “Enrollment Remained Remarkably Stable Despite President Donald Trump’s Disdain For ‘Obamacare,’ And Repeated Efforts By The Republican-led Congress To Repeal The Program.” “Enrollment remained remarkably stable despite President Donald Trump’s disdain for ‘Obamacare,’ and repeated efforts by the Republican-led Congress to repeal the program. The Trump administration also cut the sign-up window in half, slashed the ad budget, and suddenly stopped a major subsidy to insurers, which triggered a jump in premiums.” [AP, 2/7/18]

Larry Levitt, Kaiser Family Foundation: “If You Had Asked Me A Year Ago Whether Enrollment For 2018 Would Be Almost Equal To 2017, I Would Have Laughed At You.” “‘If you had asked me a year ago whether enrollment for 2018 would be almost equal to 2017, I would have laughed at you,’ said Larry Levitt, who follows health law for the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. ‘So long as lots of people are still getting insurance it becomes much harder to take that away.’” [AP, 2/7/18]

Washington Times: “Interest In The Exchanges Outpaced Last Year On A Day-To-Day Basis.” “Based on its figures, the 11 states — plus D.C. — that ran their own exchanges matched last year’s signups. In fact, there was a tiny increase of 0.09 percent, compared to a 5.3-percent drop among the 34 states that solely relied on HealthCare.gov. Five states that run their own exchanges, yet use the federal website, saw a minuscule increase of 0.2 percent, according to the academy. Mr. Trump slashed the enrollment season in half this year, meaning consumers in HealthCare.gov states had to sign up by mid-December, though hurricane-battered areas got extra time. Interest in the exchanges outpaced last year on a day-to-day basis.” [Washington Times, 2/7/18]

San Diego Union Tribune: States “Generally Attributed The Reduction To The Trump Administration’s [Actions].” “States with larger enrollment declines have generally attributed the reduction to the Trump administration’s decision to cut back on marketing efforts and shorten the 2017 open-enrollment period which ended more than a month earlier than it did in California. Double-digit premium increases in many states are also blamed for decreasing enrollment in many locations. The president’s late 2017 executive order to eliminate special “cost sharing reduction” payments directly to health insurance companies are blamed for the price hikes.” [San Diego Union Tribune, 2/7/18]

Mark Hall, Wake Forest University Professor Of Law And Public Health: “Despite The Trump Administration’s Effort To Undermine The Affordable Care Act, Its Basic Structure Remains Solid.” “Mark Hall, a professor of law and public health at Wake Forest University, said the report ‘shows that, despite the Trump administration’s effort to undermine the Affordable Care Act, its basic structure remains solid. This is a testament to its fundamental soundness. In North Carolina, enrollment dipped, but not as much as some people feared.’” [Winston-Salem Journal, 2/7/18]