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Protect Our Care Statement On Passage of Senate GOP Tax Scam which Guts American Health Care to Give Tax Breaks to Billionaires and Wall Street

In response to the Senate passing the GOP’s Senate tax scam which includes sneaky health care repeal, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Today, Senate Republicans and President Trump made their priorities clear: tax breaks for the rich and powerful and big corporations, all of whom are doing just fine in today’s economy, are more important than the health care of millions of Americans,” said Woodhouse.

“Under this bill, 13 million people will have their health coverage ripped away, premiums will skyrocket double digits for millions more, Medicare will be slashed by $25 billion next year alone and older Americans will face an age tax — all so the wealthiest and corporations can get a tax break. And none of the promises which have been made to some members to get their votes, including the passage of the Alexander-Murray stabilization bill, will undo the damage this bill will cause and hiding behind these sham deals is just plain wrong.

“After a year of historically bad poll numbers, rising public support for the Affordable Care Act and election losses in November tied to the issue of health care, Republicans are performing the political equivalent of Harakiri to appease Republican donors who want a fat tax break for themselves and a political win for their party, the health security of millions of Americans be damned in the process. Fortunately, this issue is far from decided and in the ensuing days and weeks Republicans in the House and Senate will be subject to a barrage of ads, calls, events and protests from constituents who will not stand idly by while American health care is sacrificed on the altar of tax breaks for the rich.”

Protect Our Care Talking Points on Senate Republicans’ Sneaky Health Care Repeal to Give Tax Breaks to Billionaires and Big Corporations

Senate Republicans just passed a tax bill that repeals your health care to pay for another massive tax break for the wealthiest and corporations. What this means is simple: while the wealthy and corporations get a tax break, middle-class families will get double digit premium increases, 13 million people will lose their coverage, older Americans will get an age tax and $25 billion in Medicare funding will be cut.

There is still time to stop this sneaky health care repeal, but the time to act is NOW. If every House Republican who voted against health repeal last time or voted against the tax bill combine with House Democrats, there are enough votes to stop sneaky repeal.

After failing multiple times and despite major public opposition, Senate Republicans just voted for a sneaky repeal of health care that raises premiums by double digits, rips away coverage for 13 million Americans, and forces $25 million in Medicare cuts — all to pay for special tax breaks for millionaires and big corporations.

  • The Congressional Budget Office estimated that 13 million people will lose their health insurance and premiums will rise 10% as a result of the health repeal included in the Senate tax plan they just passed.
  • Older people would be hit with an age tax. AARP estimated premiums for people over 50 would increase up to $1,500 because of health repeal.
  • The CBO said the GOP tax bill would trigger $25 billion in Medicare cuts.

Republicans who support health care repeal can’t pretend like they can fix the harm — it doesn’t work. Passing Alexander-Murray after voting for repeal is like installing guardrails on the highway after your car has gone over the cliff.

The leading experts — patient groups, insurers, doctors and hospitals — and more than 2,400 faith leaders and the American people oppose health repeal, including:

  • Nineteen leading patient groups, including the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Cancer Society opposed the health repeal in the tax bill, writing, “many individuals with serious health care needs, including patients with chronic or major health conditions, who by definition, have a pre-existing condition, may not be able to afford coverage.”
  • Six leading industry groups — America’s Health Insurance Plans, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and the Federation of American Hospitals — who warned of “serious consequences” should the mandate be repealed.
  • More than 2,400 faith leaders warned “that the number of uninsured individuals would increase by 13 million by 2025…violates our faith teaching.”
  • A mere 25 percent of American voters approve the Republican tax plan, according to a poll by Quinnipiac University.

The Senate just jammed through a partisan secret tax bill that snuck in health repeal without any hearings

  • The Senate did not hold any hearings with outside experts on the repeal of the individual mandate and the full economic impacts were not understood at the time the Senate voted to pass it.
  • Health repeal was not in the House tax bill and was not in the Senate bill Republicans submitted to the Finance Committee.
  • It was snuck in at the last minute without debate.

Protect Our Care Fact Sheet on Health Repeal in Senate Tax Bill

Senate Republicans just passed a tax bill that repeals your health care to pay for another massive tax break for the wealthiest and corporations. What this means is simple: while the wealthy and corporations get a tax break, middle-class families will get double digit premium increases, 13 million people will lose their coverage, older Americans will get an age tax and $25 billion in Medicare funding will be cut.

SENATE REPUBLICANS JUST VOTED TO REPEAL HEALTH CARE — RAISING PREMIUMS BY DOUBLE DIGITS FOR MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES, RIPPING AWAY COVERAGE FOR 13 MILLION AMERICANS, IMPOSING AN AGE TAX ON OLDER AMERICANS AND GUTTING MEDICARE BY $25 BILLION — ALL TO PAY FOR SPECIAL TAX BREAKS FOR MILLIONAIRES AND BIG CORPORATIONS

Congressional Budget Office: Republican Tax Bill Will Result In 13 Million More Uninsured People. “The number of people with health insurance would decrease by 4 million in 2019 and 13 million in 2027.” [CBO, 11/8/17]

CBO: Average Premiums Will Increase By 10 Percent In Most Years Of The Next Decade Due To The Republican Tax Bill. “Average premiums in the nongroup market would increase by about 10 percent in most years of the decade (with no changes in the ages of people purchasing insurance accounted for) relative to CBO’s baseline projections.” [CBO, 11/8/17]

CBO: Healthier People Less Likely To Purchase Health Coverage, Raising Costs For Everyone Else. “Those effects would occur mainly because healthier people would be less likely to obtain insurance and because, especially in the nongroup market, the resulting increases in premiums would cause more people to not purchase insurance.” [CBO, 11/8/17]

AARP: Premiums For People Over 50 Would Increase Up To $1,500 Because Of Health Care Repeal In The Republican Tax Bill. “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as reported by the Senate Finance Committee on Nov. 16, 2017 includes a new provision that would both reduce health care coverage and increase costs for millions of Americans. Older adults ages 50–64 would be at particularly high risk under the proposal, facing average premium increases of up to $1,500 in 2019 as a result of the bill.” [AARP, 11/21/17]

CBO: Republican Tax Bill Would Trigger A $25 Billion Cut To Medicare. “Without enacting subsequent legislation to either offset that deficit increase, waive the recordation of the bill’s impact on the scorecard, or otherwise mitigate or eliminate the requirements of the PAYGO law, OMB would be required to issue a sequestration order within 15 days of the end of the session of Congress to reduce spending in fiscal year 2018 by the resultant total of $136 billion. However, the PAYGO law limits reductions to Medicare to four percentage points (or roughly $25 billion for that year), leaving about $111 billion to be sequestered from the remaining mandatory accounts.” [CBO, 11/14/17]

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): Republicans Need To Cut Medicare Next To Pay For Tax Cuts. “‘I analyze this very differently than most,’ Rubio told the crowd. ‘Many argue that you can’t cut taxes because it will drive up the deficit. But we have to do two things. We have to generate economic growth which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future,’ the senator said.” [Financial Advisor Magazine, 11/30/17]

Center On Budget And Policy Priorities: “Senate Tax Bill Would Add 13 Million To Uninsured To Pay For Tax Cuts Of Nearly $100,000 Per Year For The Top 0.1 Percent.” “The savings from eliminating the mandate would come entirely from reducing health coverage. For example, the federal government would spend less on premium tax credits because fewer people would sign up for marketplace coverage, less on Medicaid because fewer people would enroll, and less on the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance because fewer employees would enroll in job-based coverage. These savings are what let Senate leaders make their full corporate rate cut permanent…The benefits of corporate rate cuts go overwhelmingly to high-income households.” [CBPP, 11/15/17]

PASSING ALEXANDER-MURRAY AFTER VOTING FOR REPEAL IS LIKE INSTALLING GUARDRAILS ON THE HIGHWAY AFTER YOUR CAR HAS GONE OVER THE CLIFF

CBO: Passing Alexander-Murray After The Repeal Of The Individual Responsibility Provision Would Not Undo The Damage. “In your letter of November 21, 2017, you asked about the combined effects of simultaneously passing the BHCSA and legislation that would repeal the requirement that most U.S. citizens and noncitizens who lawfully reside in the country have health insurance meeting specified standards. Specifically, you asked if legislation that combined the provisions would change the agencies’ previous estimates of the number of people with insurance coverage or premiums in the nongroup insurance market. In the estimate for the BHCSA, the agencies wrote that, relative to the Summer 2017 baseline, the legislation would not substantially change the number of people with health insurance coverage, on net.” [CBO, 11/29/17]

There Is No Guarantee Alexander-Murray Would Pass The House, Let Alone Become Law. There is no guarantee Alexander-Murray would pass the House, let alone become law. Speaker Ryan dodged questions about its fate in the House. House conservatives called it a “nonstarter.” And President Trump has been all over the map on this issue his word cannot be trusted.

THE LEADING EXPERTS — PATIENT GROUPS, INSURERS, DOCTORS AND HOSPITALS — AND MORE THAN 2,400 FAITH LEADERS AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE OPPOSE HEALTH REPEAL

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, And 16 More Leading Patient Groups: People With “Serious Health Care Needs” And With Pre-Existing Conditions “May Not Be Able To Afford Coverage.” “Many individuals with serious health care needs, including patients with chronic or major health conditions, who by definition, have a pre-existing condition, may not be able to afford coverage.” [The Hill, 11/28/17]

America’s Health Insurance Plans, American Academy Of Family Physicians, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Federation Of American Hospitals: Leading Industry Groups Warn Of “Serious Consequences” Should The Mandate Be Repealed. “As providers of healthcare and coverage to hundreds of millions of Americans, we are committed to assuring everyone has access to a range of high quality, affordable coverage options so they can access the care they need, regardless of pre-existing conditions. To achieve this critical goal, we are urging you to maintain the individual mandate unless and until Congress can enact a package of reforms to adequately assure a balanced risk pool and prevent extraordinary premium increases.” [Letter, 11/14/17]

More Than 2,400 Faith Leaders: “That The Number Of Uninsured Individuals Would Increase By 13 Million By 2025…Violates Our Faith Teaching.” “The individual mandate is critical to keeping individual market coverage affordable and keeping the individual market stable. By repealing the individual mandate, legislation will cause catastrophic losses in health coverage. The CBO estimates that the number of uninsured individuals would increase by 13 million by 2025, which violates our faith teaching.” [Letter, 11/29/17]

Protect Our Care Statement on Senate Passage of Motion to Proceed

In response to the Senate voting to proceed on the GOP tax bill, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Senate Republicans, with the enthusiastic support of President Trump, just voted to advance a bill that would rip away health coverage from 13 million people, raise premiums on millions more, impose an age tax on older Americans and slash Medicare by $25 billion,” said Woodhouse. “They are doing so to give tax breaks to golf resorts, private jet owners, the idle rich and multi-national corporations, all while raising taxes on the middle class. This bill is beyond terrible policy — it will devastate the lives of millions. This sneaky health care repeal scam is opposed by a coalition of nineteen leading patient groups and more than 2,400 faith leaders, as well as the vast majority of Americans. As this bill moves forward in the Senate, we will hold Members accountable for repealing the health care of the American people to give tax breaks to billionaires and big corporations.”

Protect Our Care Statement on CBO Analysis Confirming That Alexander-Murray Will Not Solve the…

In response to new findings from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office which determine that Alexander-Murray will have little effect on the country’s health care marketplace if the GOP goes through with their sneaky repeal, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“This confirms what every policy expert has been saying for weeks,” said Woodhouse. “Alexander-Murray means nothing if health care is repealed, and make no mistake, the GOP tax bill would do just that. Sneaky repeal would be disastrous, unnecessarily harming middle-class Americans, wrecking the country’s health care marketplace and cutting Medicare all to provide a tax cut to the wealthiest and corporations.

“Passing Alexander-Murray after voting for repeal is like installing guardrails on the highway after your car has gone over the cliff. It’s useless. Every Senator who doesn’t want to harm our nation’s health should vote against it.”

Will Alexander-Murray Become Law? Not According to GOP Elected Officials

Some GOP Senators, notably Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), have begun floating the notion that their support of the GOP tax bill — which will kick 13 million people off of their insurance, raise premiums by double digits for millions more and trigger a $25 billion cut to Medicare all to give a tax breaks to the wealthiest and corporations — is contingent on Alexander-Murray being signed into law. However, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that pairing the Alexander-Murray bill with the repeal of the individual responsibility provision will still result in 13 million fewer people with coverage and double-digit premium increases. Moreover, it’s important to note who has expressed doubt this will happen: a lot of Republicans whose support is necessary for it to be signed into law.

House Republicans, from Speaker Paul Ryan on down, have voiced their opposition to Alexander-Murray. GOP Senators have expressed skepticism that Alexander-Murray could pass the House. And President Trump, who now claims to support it, previously opposed it, which he clarified after hinting at his support, which came after his initial opposition.

The tax bill might be voted on with a promise that Alexander-Murray will become law. Does that really seem like a promise that can be kept?

HOUSE REPUBLICANS HAVE VOICED OPPOSITION AT THE ALEXANDER-MURRAY BILL

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI): “The Speaker Does Not See Anything That Changes His View That The Senate Should Keep Its Focus On Repeal And Replace Of Obamacare.” “‘The speaker does not see anything that changes his view that the Senate should keep its focus on repeal and replace of Obamacare,’ Ryan spox Doug Andres says.” [Tweet, 10/18/17]

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC): CSRs Without Full Repeal “Pretty Much A Nonstarter.” “Still, some Republicans are skeptical of any bill that isn’t repeal. ‘It depends on what it is,’ said House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). ‘The biggest thing I see with most of what they’re talking about is just extending … [subsidy] payments. And … [subsidy] payments without a transition to something that lowers premiums is pretty much a nonstarter.’” [Politico, 9/28/17]

Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC): “This Bailout Is Unacceptable.” “Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee in the House, quickly denounced the deal over Twitter: ‘The GOP should focus on repealing & replacing Obamacare, not trying to save it. This bailout is unacceptable.’” [Associated Press, 10/17/17]

Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA): “No Way.” “Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA), a member of the hardline House Freedom Caucus, told The Daily Beast in a phone interview. ‘[Alexander-Murray], as it is? No way. It’s not even in the ballpark.’” [The Daily Beast, 10/19/17]

Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA): “Right Now It’s A Nonstarter.” “House conservatives appear united in opposition to the health care stabilization proposal crafted by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray. ‘Right now it’s a nonstarter,’ House Freedom Caucus member Dave Brat said Tuesday during a Conversations with Conservatives press event.” [Roll Call, 10/24/17]

Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Scott Perry (R-PA), Mark Walker (R-NC), Matt Gaetz (R-FL): All Oppose Alexander-Murray Agreement. “Brat, Freedom Caucus members Jim Jordan and Scott Perry, Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker and Rep. Matt Gaetz all spoke to their opposition to the bipartisan accord. One aspect of the plan that conservatives oppose is the funding of cost-sharing reduction subsidies that the federal government pays to insurance companies to keep costs down for low-income individuals.” [Roll Call, 10/24/17]

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): “We Should Not Be Funding The CSRs.” “‘It is a problem,’ Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan said. ‘We should not be funding the CSRs.’” [Roll Call, 10/24/17]

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC): “It’s An Insult For The Insurance Companies To Be Getting Subsidies.” “South Carolina Rep. Ralph Norman added: ‘It’s an insult for the insurance companies to be getting subsidies. It really is.’” [Roll Call, 10/24/17]

EVEN REPUBLICAN SENATORS HAVE EXPRESSED SKEPTICISM THAT THE ALEXANDER-MURRAY BILL COULD PASS THE HOUSE

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA): Alexander-Murray “Will Not Pass Unless Concerns Of The House Are Addressed.” “However, we recognize this short-term stabilization will not pass unless concerns of the House are addressed… Without a stabilization package, the market will collapse and advance premium tax credits will spike. This would increase the costs to the American taxpayer.” [Lindsey Graham Statement, 10/19/17]

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO): “I Don’t Know” If Alexander-Murray Could Pass The House. “Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., a member of the Senate GOP leadership, said he believes the Senate could pass a bipartisan health care fix but wasn’t sure if it could clear the House or get President Trump’s signature. ‘I believe they’ll be able to come up with a proposal, and a number of senators will sponsor it,’ Blunt, R-Mo., said of the negotiations between Alexander and Murray. ‘I don’t have a sense of where the president’s going to wind up or where the House is. I think the Senate would likely be able to get something done there. But whether the other two essential players are willing to go in that direction, I don’t know.’” [Tennessean, 9/29/17]

AND PRESIDENT TRUMP FLIP-FLOPS ON HIS SUPPORT FOR ALEXANDER-MURRAY TOO MUCH TO BE TRUSTED

President Trump: “Senator Mike Rounds Of South Dakota Quoted Trump As Telling Republican Senators, ‘I Support The Alexander-Murray Bill.’” “Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota quoted Trump as telling Republican senators, ‘I support the Alexander-Murray bill.’ ‘He actually made it very clear that he supported the Alexander-Murray bill,’ Rounds said of the president’s remarks during a luncheon meeting with senators. ‘He sees it as a transition away from Obamacare.’” [Bloomberg, 11/28/17]

President Trump: “I’m Not Going To Do It.” “So when I knocked out the hundreds of millions of dollars a month being paid back to the insurance companies by politicians — I must tell you — that wanted me to continue to pay this, I said I’m not going to do it. This is money that goes to the insurance companies to line their pockets, to raise up their stock prices. And they’ve had a record run. They’ve had an incredible run, and it’s not appropriate.” [Politico, 10/18/17]

President Trump: “Congress Must Find A Solution To The Obamacare Mess Instead Of Providing Bailouts To Insurance Companies.” “While I commend the bipartisan work done by Sens. Alexander and Murray — and I do commend it — I continue to believe Congress must find a solution to the Obamacare mess instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies.” [Politico, 10/18/17]

President Trump: “I Can Never Support Bailing Out Ins Co’s Who Have Made A Fortune W/ O’Care.” “I am supportive of Lamar as a person & also of the process, but I can never support bailing out ins co’s who have made a fortune w/ O’Care.” [Tweet, 10/18/17]

President Trump: “For A Period Of One Year, Two Years, We Will Have A Very Good Solution.” “‘Alexander said the president had encouraged his efforts in phone calls over the past two weeks. And at the White House, Trump responded positively, expressing optimism that Republicans would ultimately succeed in repealing Obamacare, but until then, ‘For a period of one year, two years, we will have a very good solution.’ ‘It is a short-term solution so that we don’t have this very dangerous little period, including a dangerous period for insurance companies, by the way,’ he said during a Rose Garden press conference.” [Associated Press, 10/17/17]

Don’t Forget: Trump and GOP Congress Forced a 31-Percent Health Care Rate Hike in Pennsylvania

As was again reported on by the York Daily Record, 2018 premiums in Pennsylvania increased an average of 31 percent this year, with the state’s Department of Insurance making clear the blame lies with President Trump. “Premiums on Silver plans increased almost 31 percent for 2018 because the Trump administration ended cost sharing reduction payments, which are payments made to insurers to help cover out-of-pocket costs for lower-income customers’ deductibles and co-pays,” said spokesman Ron Ruman. “These are costs the insurers are still responsible for under the law, but they’re not going to get reimbursement from the government now.”

While President Trump and Republicans in Congress have been unable to repeal the health care law, they have been doing everything they can to sabotage the marketplace by:

  • President Trump defunding the law’s mandatory cost-sharing-reduction payments, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget office said would increase rates by 20% in 2018 and 25% in 2020.
  • Cutting 90%of the resources to support open enrollment.
  • President Trump signing an Executive Order on his first day in office demanding that agencies dismantle as much of the law as they can.
  • Signing an Executive Order to create garbage insurance plans which will raise premiums, slash coverage and end protections for those with pre-existing conditions.
  • Pursuing partisan repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which has created uncertainty in the market and led to higher premiums.

Now people are facing the consequences.

“Everyone who gets a bill from their insurer for higher health care costs next year can thank President Trump and Republicans in Congress for the sabotage that led to this,” Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse said. “Their repeated threats, uncertainty and sabotage of our health care system is taking a toll on real people’s lives in Pennsylvania. Your health care bills next year should say ‘brought to you by Donald Trump and the GOP.’”

From 2016 to 2017, prior to the start of Trump’s sabotage, the cost increase to people for the most widely used health care plan on the Marketplace was $1 after tax credits.

EXPERTS AND INSURANCE COMMISSIONERS AGREE THAT TRUMP’S SABOTAGE IS RAISING COSTS:

Center for American Progress: “The Center for American Progress estimates that uncertainty around CSRs and mandate enforcement will raise 2018 premiums for benchmark coverage an extra $1,061 annually for a 40-year-old and $2,491 annually for a 64-year-old.” [Center for American Progress, 8/16/17]

Kaiser Family Foundation: “Benchmark Premiums Would Increase By 19 Percent On Average If Cost-Sharing Subsidies Were Unpaid.” [KFF, 4/6/17]

Urban Institute: “We Find That Premiums For Silver Marketplace Plans Would Increase $1,040 Per Person On Average.” [Urban Institute, 1/16]

Commonwealth Fund: “Eliminating Cost-sharing Reductions Could Destabilize Insurance Markets.” [Commonwealth Fund, 4/28/17]

Urban Institute: “A Precipitous Drop In Insurer Participation Is Even More Likely If The Cost-sharing Assistance Is Discontinued.” [Urban Institute, 12/6/16]

Julie Mix Mcpeak, President-Elect Of The National Association Of Insurance Commissioners And Tennessee State Insurance Commissioner: “I Am Very Fearful That We’ll Have Insurers Make A Decision To Leave Markets As A Result Of The Uncertainty.” [New York Times, 8/7/17]

Teresa Miller, Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner: “Failing To Make Payments To Insurers For Cost-sharing Reductions Would Force Insurers To Request A Statewide Average 20.3 Percent Increase Rather Than 8.8 Percent Statewide Average That Was Filed With The Department In May.” [Press Release, 7/31/17]

Mike Kreidler, Washington State Insurance Commissioner: “The Current Federal Administration’s Actions — Such As Not Committing To Reimburse Insurers For Cost-sharing Subsidies And Not Enforcing The Individual Mandate — Appear Focused Only On Destabilizing The Insurance Market.” [Statement, 6/19/17]

Lori Wing-Heier, Director, Alaska Division Of Insurance: “It Is Expected That Health Care Premiums Would Jump As High As 20 Percent If Trump Follows Through With His Threat To Cut Subsidies.” [Fairbanks News-Miner, 8/14/17]

Dave Jones, California State Insurance Commissioner: “President Trump Appears On A Mission To Destroy Health-Insurance Markets By Creating Instability Through His Own Actions And Thereby Depriving Millions Of Americans Of Health-care Coverage.” [Wall Street Journal, 6/27/17]

Marguerite Salazar, Colorado’s State Insurance Commissioner: “Commissioner Marguerite Salazar Said The Trump Administration Threatens The Whole Market. ‘My Fear Is It May Collapse.’” [Los Angeles Times, 5/18/17]

Craig Wright, Chief Actuary, Florida Office of Insurance Regulation: “If The Subsidies Are Not Funded, Carriers Would Face The Prospect Of Large Financial Losses.” [New York Times, 8/7/17]

Eric A. Cioppa, Superintendent Of The Maine Bureau Of Insurance: “If They Don’t Get A Subsidy, I Fully Expect Double-Digit Increases For Three Carriers On The Exchanges Here.” [New York Times, 6/4/17]

National Academy for State Health Policy: “The Federal Government Must Commit To Funding CSR Payments In Order To Lower Rates And Stabilize Carrier Participation.” [Letter from State-based Marketplace Directors, 8/30/17]

Dan Hilferty, President And CEO, Independence Blue Cross: “We Firmly Believe Your Coverage Will Be There For 2018, If The Federal Government, Congress And President Commit To, Fund The Subsidies During An Interim Period Of Time.” [CNN, 7/19/17]

Kelly Paulk, Vice President, Product Strategy And Individual Markets, Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Tennessee: “We Have To Factor In Two Significant Uncertainties…Combining Those Two Factors Leads To An Average 21 Percent Rate Increase.” [Blog Post, 6/30/17]

Danielle Devine, Michigan Director Of Operations, Meridian Health Plan: “The Political Climate Continues To Make It Difficult To Price And The Uncertainty Over The Future Of The Subsidies Creates The Largest Reason For Significant Rate Increases.” [Crain’s Detroit Business, 6/14/17]

Rick Notter, Director Of Individual Business, Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Michigan: “If We Don’t Have That Cost-Sharing (Subsidy), We Have To Make Up The Difference And The Only Way For Us To Do That Is With A Higher Rate.” [Detroit Free Press, 6/14/17]

Dr. Mario Molina, Former CEO, Molina Healthcare: “The Administration And Republicans In Congress Want You To Believe That Insurers Raising Premiums For Their Plans Or Exiting The Marketplaces All Together Are Consequences Of The Design Of The Affordable Care Act Instead Of The Direct Results Of Their Own Actions To Sabotage The Law. Don’t Let Them Fool You.” [U.S. News & World Report, 5/30/17]

Brad Wilson, CEO, Blue Cross Blue Shield Of North Carolina: “The Failure Of The Administration And The House To Bring Certainty And Clarity By Funding CSRs Has Caused Our Company To File A 22.9 Percent Premium Increase, Rather Than One That Is Materially Lower.” [Washington Post, 5/26/17]

Kurt Giesa, Practice Leader, Oliver Wyman Actuarial Consulting: “Our Modeling Shows That This Uncertainty, If It Remains, Could Lead Payers To Submit Rate Increases Between 28 And 40 Percent, And More Than Two-thirds Of Those Increases Will Be Related To The Uncertainty Around CSR Payments And Individual Mandate.” [Oliver Wyman, 6/14/17]

Protect Our Care Questions for HHS Secretary Nominee Alex Azar

Tomorrow, former Eli Lilly pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar will appear before the Senate HELP Committee as the next nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Following the tenure of Tom Price, who attempted to sabotage the nation’s health care system, placing at risk the lives of the very people he swore to defend, before being fired for spending taxpayer money on fancy air travel, Protect Our Care offers the following questions to Mr. Azar:

HEALTH REFORM

Open enrollment is off to a strong start, every county has coverage and affordable plans are available to most all Americans yet President Trump continues to say that the ACA is a disaster which must be repealed. With all the evidence suggesting otherwise, do you agree with President Trump that the ACA is imploding and needs to be repealed and if you do how do you explain all the evidence to the contrary?

You said at one point that the ACA is “circling the drain.” Given the facts outlined earlier, what is your evidence for that comment and do you stand by it and if so why?

Do you agree with President Trump that we should have “insurance for everybody”?

OPEN ENROLLMENT

Currently, the leadership of HHS/CMS has participated in enrollment events for Medicare — a 50 year old program — but hardly mention or talk about signing up for health care during open enrollment which as you know has only been in effect for 5 years. Do you believe the government has a responsibility to educate the public about marketplace open enrollment? Do you believe the government has a responsibility to educate the public about Medicare open enrollment? And would you use your office to educate people about signing up for health care regardless of whether it is Marketplace, Medicare, Medicaid or CHIP?

SABOTAGE

What do you think President Trump meant when he said he should “let Obamacare fail?” Previously, you told Fox Business that getting rid of enforcement of the individual mandate and cost-sharing reductions would “hasten its demise.” Do you think its the proper role of the HHS secretary to make the ACA fail?

In your interview for this position with the President did he ask you to commit to supporting efforts to repeal the ACA? Did he instruct you should you get the job to carry out the law in any way so as to make it less effective or in other words sabotage it? And before you answer, we all know he has been on a mission to sabotage the law — slashing efforts to support open enrollment, signing an executive order his first day in office to undermine the ACA and cutting off cost sharing reduction payments which are used to lower out of pocket costs for low income Americans for no reason other than to sabotage the law. So, with that as context — that the President supports both the full repeal of the ACA and the sabotage of it, in your interview did he ask or instruct you to support repeal and policies which would amount to sabotage?

MEDICAID AND MEDICAID EXPANSION

Sir, Medicaid expansion has been one of the most successful features of the ACA in states where it has been expanded — increasing coverage for millions of people. Medicaid expansion covers more than 15 million people and the Medicaid program overall is more popular than ever because of the health security it has brought to millions of people. In the first ballot measure ever on the issue, this month the people of Maine overcame the misleading opposition of its governor and voted to expand Medicaid in the state. Many Republican Governors and legislatures have supported Medicaid expansion such as in Nevada, Ohio, and Arkansas.

With all of that, the CMS administrator, the person who is charged with maintaining and expanding coverage to the American people through Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, etc. has talked down Medicaid expansion and said it is not sustainable. Where do you stand on this issue sir? Do you support Medicaid expansion as a feature of the ACA and if so will you direct your CMS administrator to do the same? Do you agree with the characterization of the current Medicaid system as supporting “soft bigotry?” Do you support work requirements for Medicaid? Previous health care bills championed by the administration have called for hundreds of billions in dollars in cuts to Medicaid compared to current projections. Do you support these cuts? What gives you confidence that people won’t pay for these cuts with their health?

Protect Our Care Statement on Tax Bill Passing Out of Senate Budget Committee

In response to the news that the Senate Budget Committee voted 12–11 to advance the GOP tax bill, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement:

“This bill is a disgrace,” said Woodhouse. “It repeals our health care in order to give billionaires and corporations a massive tax break. It was crafted in secret, on a purely partisan basis, with no expert input, and its provisions are opposed by every major health group in America. This bill would kick 13 million Americans off of their insurance, raise premiums across the board, trigger a $25 billion cut to Medicare and further destabilize the insurance markets.

“If this bill passes, it is tantamount to repealing the Affordable Care Act. President Trump’s support for the Alexander-Murray bill is a sham. Alexander-Murray does nothing to make up for the damage the Senate bill causes and everyone knows that, including its authors. Even more cynically, the House leadership does not support the bill and House conservatives have referred to it as a ‘nonstarter.’

“This bill will rip health care away from millions and raise costs for millions more, hammering older Americans and people in rural areas. The consequences for middle-class Americans will be enormous. Shame on any senator who supports it.”

WTAIS (WHAT THE ADMINISTRATION ISN’T SAYING) ABOUT HEALTH REPEAL IN THEIR TALKING POINTS

We came across the White House’s talking points on the Senate tax scheme, which included a section supporting the provision that repeals our health care.

Here is what the administration isn’t saying:

  1. 13 million more people won’t have health insurance. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated repeal of the individual responsibility provision would result in 13 million more people without health coverage.
  2. Millions more people will see their premiums increase double digits. CBO also said premiums would increase 10 percent next year if the repeal provision were law.
  3. Repeal would hurt rural areas, including Alaska, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. An LA Times analysis found that the health repeal provision in the Senate Republican tax scheme would “derail insurance markets in conservative, rural swaths of the country…That could leave consumers in these regions — including most or all of Alaska, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming, as well as parts of many other states — with either no options for coverage or health plans that are prohibitively expensive.”
  4. Many middle class people would see any tax cut they might get wiped away with higher premiums. As Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said, “The fact is that, if you do pull this piece of the Affordable Care Act out, for some middle-income families, the increased premium is going to cancel out the tax cut that they would get.”

Here is what they are saying — White House Talking Points:

Tax Reform Talkers

State of Play

  • Republicans have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver historic tax reform for the American people.
  • In survey after survey, the American people say they trust Republicans more on the economy than Democrats.
  • This is Congress’s opportunity to show that trust is well-placed.
  • The economy is revving up because of the President’s pro-growth, pro-American jobs agenda — including his historic efforts to eliminate crushing regulations — but also in anticipation of our plan to cut taxes for the middle class and American businesses.
  • Now is the time to deliver.
  • This tax reform plan expands economic opportunity so that every American has a chance to reach their dreams.
  • That’s what this is all about: empowering American families to build a better life for themselves and their children.

Individual Mandate

  • The President supports repealing the individual mandate as part of the tax reform plan.
  • The mandate — which the Supreme Court ruled is a tax — disproportionately hits the lower- and middle-income families to whom we are working to provide relief.
  • 79% of people who paid the penalty had household income below $50k.
  • 86% of the penalties collected were from people in households with less than $100k.
  • The President’s priorities have been consistent:
  • Tax cuts for middle-class families,
  • Simplifying the tax code for all,
  • Slashing taxes for businesses of all sizes so they can grow, create jobs, raise wages for their workers, and compete in the global marketplace.
  • We support using the savings from repealing the individual mandate to provide additional economic growth and tax relief for hardworking American families.

Johnson Amendment

  • The President has maintained all along that he would like to see the Johnson Amendment repealed.
  • That is why earlier this year he signed an executive order establishing that, among other things:
  • It shall be the policy of the executive branch to vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom.
  • All executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech.
  • If Congress is able to use the tax bill as a vehicle to repeal the Johnson Amendment, the White House would support it.

Delay of Corporate Rate Cut

  • Cutting our corporate tax rate from 35% — the highest among our economic competitors — to 20% — among the lowest — will level the playing field for American companies so they can dominate their global competition.
  • This will be an infusion of rocket fuel into the economy, empowering companies to more quickly create jobs and raise wages.
  • However, even if it does not go into effect until 2019, many other important changes will go into effect on January 1st and drive massive economy growth.
  • Most notably, businesses will immediately be able to deduct 100% of the money they spend on capital investments for at least the next five years.
  • This will empower manufacturers to buy the heavy machinery they need to grow and thrive in America.

House and Senate Bill Differences

  • The legislative process is working exactly how it is supposed to, and both bills achieve the President’s priorities:
  • Tax cuts for middle-class families,
  • Simplifying the tax code for all,
  • Slashing taxes for businesses of all sizes so they can grow, create jobs, raise wages for their workers, and compete in the global marketplace.
  • Bringing back trillions of dollars American companies currently have parked overseas.
  • We are on pace to deliver a Christmas present to the American people in the form of a massive tax cut.

Small Businesses / Pass-Throughs

  • Both bills reduce the tax burden on businesses of all sizes — regardless of their structure. The bills help everyone from mom and pop shops to Main Street businesses to large manufacturers and other job creators.
  • The House bill lowers tax rates on pass-through business income to 0%, 12% and 25% — the lowest top rate in more than 80 years. It also provides a special low rate of only 9% for the smallest businesses.
  • The Senate bill allows all pass-through businesses in all tax brackets to deduct a portion of their business income so that 17.4% of their business income is completely tax-free.
  • Both bills ensure that wealthy individuals cannot avoid taxes by characterizing all of their wages as business income.

Key tax cuts expiring in 2023 in the House bill and in 2026 in the Senate bill

  • If you look at history, Congress has always extended tax benefits that make sense.
  • They have extended tax cuts for middle-income families, and they have extended important business tax cuts that are good for the economy.
  • There’s no reason to believe that would be any different here.

Top Line Responses to Questions about Details

  • Is the White House supportive of [insert specific provision currently being debated]?
  • What the White House is supportive of is:
  • Cutting taxes for hardworking, middle-income families
  • Cutting taxes on American businesses to make them more competitive
  • Making the tax code more fair by eliminating special interest loopholes and deductions
  • Making the tax code more simple so that the large majority of Americans can file their taxes on a single page
  • The process is moving forward the way it’s supposed to in Congress, with members having input and ironing out the details.
  • But what about the elimination of [insert deduction or credit]?
  • Opponents of the bill are being disingenuous, because they are focusing on the elimination of targeted tax provisions while ignoring the tax cuts in the bill.
  • In other words, they’re trying to get you to focus on the little sandbox — we’re trying to give you the entire beach!
  • The Washington Post fact-checkers gave Democrats FOUR PINOCCHIOS for their claim that our tax plan will raise taxes on working-class families.
  • “Any Democrat who spread this claim should delete their tweets and make clear they were in error.” — Washington Post

Middle-Class Tax Cuts and Bigger Paychecks

  • We’re going to put over $5,000 PER YEAR in the pockets of hardworking American families through tax cuts and pay raises.
  • Here’s how:
  • The typical American family of four — making the median household income of $59,000 — would save well over $1,000 per year on their taxes.
  • The Council of Economic Advisors estimates that middle-income families will also see higher household income — a minimum of $4,000 higher — as a result of the business tax cut.
  • That’s why the President said we’re going to give the American people “a big, beautiful present for Christmas in the form of a tax cut.”

Tax Cuts for Jobs

  • Numerous analyses show our plan will produce massive job creation and economic growth.
  • The Council of Economic Advisors estimates:
  • 3% to 5% increase in GDP over ten years.
  • That means an additional $700 billion to $1.2 trillion in economic output.
  • The non-partisan Tax Foundation estimates:
  • Cutting the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20% will increase long-run GDP by 3.1 percent.
  • 3.9% increase in the size of the U.S. economy.
  • 3.1% higher wages for American workers.