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:
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plans are available to most all Americans yet President Trump continues to say that the ACA is a disaster which must be repealed. With all the evidence suggesting otherwise, do you agree with President Trump that the ACA is imploding and needs to be repealed and if you do how do you explain all the evidence to the contrary?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”?
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?
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?