To: Interested Parties

From: Brad Woodhouse, Protect Our Care Campaign Director

Date: November 16, 2017

Re: Sneaky Repeal: the GOP’s Latest Secret, Partisan Health Care Repeal

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Republicans in Congress are sneaking health care repeal into their tax bill to pay for another massive tax break for the wealthiest Americans and corporations. What this means is simple: while the wealthy and corporations get a tax cut, middle-class families will get double-digit premium increases and millions of people will lose their coverage. Just last week in elections from Virginia to Maine, the American people rejected their approach to health care. Republicans aren’t listening — and they’ll be held accountable.

Sneaky repeal would be a disaster — it would raise middle-class premiums, make insurance unaffordable for people with pre-existing conditions and rip coverage away from millions of people, just 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% because of the health repeal provision in the Senate tax plan. What’s the GOP plan for them? What are these millions of people supposed to do about their health care?

Moreover, repealing health care means fewer healthier and younger people buy health insurance, causing a “death spiral” of skyrocketing costs for everyone else — including people with pre-existing conditions. ​Experts predict that insurers will be forced to leave the Marketplace, meaning some consumers may not have any coverage options. So why take away people’s coverage and increase premiums? Because Senate Republicans want to pay for a $94,540 tax cut for multi-millionaires and to permanently cut big corporations’ taxes.

Analysis of the bill shows that families will face premium increase of nearly $2,000. An analysis from the Center for American progress, premium increases for benchmark plan coverage for an unsubsidized middle-class family of four are slated to be $1,990, but would be be even higher in a number of states:

  • A family in Alaska would see an increase of $2,900, and 24,000 people would lose coverage
  • A family in Maine would see an increase of $2,350, and 50,000 people would lose coverage
  • A family in Arizona would see an increase of $2,060, and 282,000 people would lose coverage

As such, the leading experts — patient groups, insurers, doctors and hospitals — all oppose sneaky repeal. Sixteen patient groups have announced their opposition: March of Dimes, the American Heart Association, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network; the Multiple Sclerosis Society; Lutheran Services in America; the American Lung Association; the American Diabetes Association; the National Health Council; the Epilepsy Foundation; the National Organization for Rare Disorders; the American Liver Foundation; Family Voices; Consumers Union; Little Mended Hearts; and Futures Without Violence. These groups wrote that they were “deeply troubled” over the bill, calling it “a step backwards for individuals and families.”

And they weren’t the only ones. 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 — also announced their opposition, warning of “serious consequences” should the mandate be repealed.

Republicans want to cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations so much they are cutting Medicare and raising taxes on middle class families to do it. In addition to the double-digit premium hikes and 13 million people who would lose their insurance, the CBO found that the GOP tax bill would trigger $25 billion in Medicare cuts. The House Republican tax plan also pays for their tax cuts by eliminating the medical expense deduction, which helps families with high medical costs such as long-term care and chronic diseases. Nearly 9 million people claimed this deduction and nearly 70 percent of those people earned $75,000 or less.

And then there is the scam. Republicans want to give cover to people by promising a vote on the Alexander-Murray stabilization bill, but their actions make Alexander-Murray nothing more than a fig leaf. Attempting to adopt Alexander-Murray — which was crafted through extensive, bipartisan negotiations and with expert input — on the heels of a partisan repeal process represents nothing more than political cover. In fact, House Republicans have expressed opposition to Alexander-Murray so there is no guarantee it will get through Congress, let alone become law. At this point, Alexander-Murray means nothing if health care is repealed — passing it after voting for repeal is like installing guardrails on the highway after your car has gone over the cliff. It’s useless.

And all of this comes on the heels of the American people rejecting the Republican health care agenda. The reason Republicans failed to repeal health care four times already this year was a simple one: because people don’t like it. In fact, GOP health care repeal is the most unpopular legislation in three decades.

Just last week, health care was the dominating issue in elections. In the Virginia governor’s race, health care was the #1 issue, more than double any other issue, and among those voters, Ralph Northam beat Ed Gillespie by 54 points (77–23). Down the ballot, Democratic candidates for the House of Delegates ran on health care and won a historic victory, flipping at least fourteen seats. In New Jersey, 19% of voters ranked health care their top issue, and chose Phil Murphy over Kim Guadagno, who opposed the ACA, by 74 points (86–12). In Maine, voters “easily approved” an expansion of Medicaid by a nearly 60–40 margin.

And this week it was announced that more than 1.5 million people, including more than 345,000 new consumers, have gotten insurance though the first two weeks of open enrollment — a 45% increase from last year.

So why is the GOP pushing this agenda forward? Republicans are sneaking health repeal into their tax bill simply so they can give massive tax cuts to the wealthy and big corporations. Multi-millionaires will get a $100,000 tax cut under this plan while everyday Americans will suffer. But as last spring’s town halls, and summer’s Senate votes, and last week’s elections proved, Americans won’t stand for it.