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Iowa Archives — Protect Our Care

Protect Our Care Announces Plans for Nationwide Events to Highlight Agenda for Lower Costs and Better Care

To Mark 9th Anniversary of the ACA’s passage, Protect Our Care Will Hold Events in Key Battleground States this Week to Promote a Democratic Agenda for Lower Costs, Better Care and an End to GOP Sabotage

Washington, DC – Protect Our Care has announced plans for activities nationwide this week, during the Congressional recess, to promote an agenda for lower costs, better care and end to Republican health care sabotage in advance of the 9th anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was signed into law nine years ago this Saturday, March 23.

Activities will include press events in Alaska, Ohio, Colorado, Arizona, Iowa, Georgia, Maine and North Carolina as well as social media efforts nationwide.  At the events, health care professionals, elected officials, health care advocates, and people who have benefited from the ACA will talk about the benefits of the law and discuss the need to move forward with a health care agenda for lower costs and better care for all Americans. Participants will also urge Congress to take action to lower the cost of prescription drugs, rein in insurance companies, crack down on short-term junk plans and other steps necessary to improve our health care system. The events will also serve as an opportunity to call out Republicans in each state for their continued acts of health care sabotage and support for repeal.

“There is no doubt that the Democratic agenda on health care has changed the lives of millions of Americans for the better,” said Protect Our Care executive director Brad Woodhouse. “Across the country, Americans from all walks of life have been able to receive quality, affordable health care and coverage for pre-existing conditions thanks to Democrats’ actions to shape and strengthen the nation’s health care laws. On this important anniversary, it’s critical that we move forward with a bold agenda for lower costs and better care while continuing to call out Republican’s repeated attempts to undermine and sabotage our health care system at every turn.”

Events happening this week:

Iowa press event

When:    Tuesday, March 19 at 10:30am CDT

Where:   Iowa State Capitol (Room 116), 1007 E Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50319

Details:  Facebook event link

Alaska press event

When:   Tuesday, March 19 at 11:00am AKDT

Where:  1057 W Fireweed Ln, Anchorage, AK 99503

Details:  Facebook event link

Georgia press event

When:    Tuesday, March 19 at 3:00pm EST

Where:   Central Presbyterian Church, 201 Washington St. SW, Atlanta, Georgia 30303

Details:  Facebook event link

Arizona press event

When:    Wednesday, March 20 at 11:00am MST

Where:   Arizona State Capitol, 700 W Washington, Phoenix, Arizona 85007

Details:  Facebook event link

Ohio – Dayton press event

When:    Wednesday, March 20  

Where:   Dayton City Commission Office, 101 W Third St, Dayton, OH 45401

Maine press event

When:    Thursday, March 21 at 11:00am EST

Where:   State House Welcome Center, 210 State St, Augusta, ME 04333

Details:  Facebook event link

North Carolina press event

When:   Thursday, March 21 at 11:00am EST

Where:  North Carolina General Assembly, 16 W Jones St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Details: Facebook event link

Colorado rally outside Senator Cory Gardner’s office

When:   Friday, March 22 at 12:00pm MDT

Where:  Corner of 19th Street and Stout Street, Denver, CO 80202

Details: Facebook event link

Ohio – Cleveland press event

When:    Friday, March 22

Where:   Neighborhood Family Practice Pharmacy, 3569 Ridge Rd, Cleveland, OH 44102

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Court Ruling Helps Joni Ernst Rip Away Protections for People with Pre-Existing Conditions

Decision From Federal Judge Means:

Medicaid Expansion is Gone

Protections for Pre-Existing Conditions are Gone

Hundreds Of Thousands of Iowans Will Lose Health Care

And Joni Ernst OWNS IT

Washington, D.C. –  On Friday night, conservative U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor issued his ruling in Texas, et. al. vs. United States, et. al., siding with Republican attorneys general, governors, the Trump Administration, and Senator Joni Ernst  to overturn the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA). Whether it’s repealing the individual mandate to pay for tax cuts or ramming through partisan repeal legislation, repeal cheerleader Joni Ernst has done nothing but support the GOP’s efforts to strip coverage from hundreds of thousands of Iowans. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care issued the following statement:

“Like two sides of the same coin, Joni Ernst and the Trump Administration have worked relentlessly to undermine the Affordable Care Act. Today, they are one step closer to ripping health care away from millions of Iowans with pre-existing conditions like cancer, diabetes, or asthma.  If this ruling isn’t overturned, Joni Ernst will roll back the clock and take Iowans back to the days where insurance companies had the power to once again deny, drop, or charge more for coverage. They will once again have the power to impose annual or lifetime limits and charge women and seniors more based on their age and gender. Make no mistake, these actions will hurt hundreds of millions of Iowans.”

BACKGROUND:

Due to Judge O’Connor’s ruling yesterday, Republicans are one step closer to repealing the Affordable Care Act and eliminating key protections, unleashing — as the Trump Administration itself admitted in his court — “chaos” in our entire health care system. Under this ruling:

  • Marketplace tax credits and coverage for 10 million people: GONE.
  • Medicaid expansion currently covering 15 million people: GONE.
  • Protections for more than 130 million people with pre-existing conditions when they buy coverage on their own: GONE.
  • Allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26: GONE.
  • Free annual wellness exams: GONE.
  • Ban on annual and lifetime limits: GONE.
  • Ban on insurance discrimination against women: GONE.
  • Contraception with no out-of-pocket costs: GONE.
  • Limit on out-of-pocket costs: GONE.
  • Requirement that insurance companies cover essential benefits like prescription drugs, maternity care, and hospitalization: GONE.
  • Improvements to Medicare, including reduced costs for prescription drugs: GONE.
  • Closed Medicare prescription drug donut hole: GONE.
  • Rules to hold insurance companies accountable: GONE.
  • Small business tax credits: GONE.

What’s at stake for Iowa:

  • The coverage that 132,000 Iowans gained through the ACA by 2015.
  • Protections for 1,288,400 Iowans who have a pre-existing health condition.
  • The health care of roughly 24,000 young adults in Iowa who have coverage because they can stay on their parents coverage until age 26.
  • 150,000 Iowans who have coverage because of Medicaid expansion.
  • The nearly 1,530,502 Iowans, most of whom have employer coverage, who can access free preventive care at no cost.
  • The 1,862,000 Iowans with employer coverage who no longer have to worry about lifetime or annual limits.
  • Seniors’ drug savings — 51,596 Iowa seniors are saving $54.6 million on drugs in 2017, an average of $1,058 per beneficiary because the ACA closed the Medicare prescription drug donut hole.

Because Judge O’Connor Sided With Republicans, 17.1 Million People Could Lose Their Coverage

Because Judge O’Connor Sided With Republicans, Insurance Companies Could Be Put Back In Charge, Ending Protections For The 130 Million People With A Pre-Existing Condition

  • According to a recent analysis by the Center for American Progress, roughly half of nonelderly Americans, or as many as 130 million people, have a pre-existing condition. This includes:
    • 44 million people who have high blood pressure
    • 45 million people who have behavioral health disorders
    • 44 million people who have high cholesterol
    • 34 million people who have asthma and chronic lung disease
    • 34 million people who have osteoarthritis and other joint disorders
  • 17 million children. One in four children, or roughly 17 million, have a pre-existing condition.
  • 68 million women. More than half of women and girls nationally have a pre-existing condition.
  • 30 million people aged 55-64. 84 percent of older adults, 30.5 million Americans between age 55 and 64, have a pre-existing condition.
  • 1,288,400 Iowans have a pre-existing condition.

Because Judge O’Connor Sided With Republicans, Insurance Companies Could Have The Power To Deny Or Drop Coverage Because Of A Pre-Existing Condition

Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies routinely denied people coverage because of a pre-existing condition or canceled coverage when a person got sick. If Judge O’Connor rules in favor of Republicans, insurance companies will be able to do this again.

  • A 2010 congressional report found that the top four health insurance companies denied coverage to one in seven consumers on the individual market over a three year period.
  • A 2009 congressional report found that the of the largest insurance companies had retroactively canceled coverage for 20,000 people over the previous five year period
Conditions That Could Cost You Your Care:

  • AIDS/HIV
  • Alcohol/drug Abuse
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Cancer
  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Kidney Disease
  • Severe Epilepsy
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Pregnancy
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Depression
  • Eating Disorders
  • Bipolar Disorder
Jobs You Could Be Denied Coverage Because Of:

  • Active military personnel
  • Air traffic controller
  • Body guard
  • Pilot
  • Meat packers
  • Taxi cab drivers
  • Steel metal workers
  • Law enforcement
  • Oil and gas exploration
  • Scuba divers
Medications That You Could Be Denied Health Care For Taking:

  • Anti-arthritic medications
  • Anti-diabetic medications (including insulin)
  • Anti-cancer medications
  • Anti-coagulant and anti-thrombotic medications
  • Medications used to treat autism
  • Anti-psychotics
  • Medications for HIV/AIDS
  • Growth hormone
  • Medication used to treat arthritis, anemia, and narcolepsy
  • Fertility Medication

Because Judge O’Connor Sided With Republicans, Insurance Companies Could Have The Power To Charge You More

  • More than 100 Million People With A Pre-Existing Condition Could Be Forced to Pay More. An analysis by Avalere finds that “102 million individuals, not enrolled in major public programs like Medicaid or Medicare, have a pre-existing medical condition and could therefore face higher premiums or significant out-of-pocket costs” thanks to the Republican lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  • Insurance Companies Could Charge Premium Surcharges in the Six Figures. If Judge O’Connor sides with Republican lawmakers, insurance companies would be able to charge people more because of a pre-existing condition. The health repeal bill the House passed in 2017 had a similar provision, and an analysis by the Center for American Progress found that insurers could charge up to $4,270 more for asthma, $17,060 more for pregnancy, $26,180 more for rheumatoid arthritis and $140,510 more for metastatic cancer.
  • Women Could Be Charged More Than Men for the Same Coverage. Prior to the ACA, women were often charged premiums on the nongroup market of up to 50 percent higher than they charged men for the same coverage.
  • People Over the Age of 50 Could Face a $4,000 “Age Tax,” Including $ 4,407 in Iowa. If Judge O’Connor sides with Republican lawmakers, insurance companies would be able to charge people over 50 more than younger people. The Affordable Care Act limited the amount older people could be charged to three times more than younger people. If insurers were to charge five times more, as was proposed in the Republican repeal bills, that would add an average “age tax” of $4,124 for a 60-year-old in the individual market, including $ 4,407 in Iowa, according to the AARP.
  • Nine Million People in the Marketplaces Would Pay More for Coverage, Including 41,678 Iowans. If Judge O’Connor sides with Republican lawmakers, consumers would no longer have access to tax credits that help them pay their marketplace premiums, meaning roughly nine million people who receive these tax credits to pay for coverage will have to pay more, including 41,678 in Iowa.
  • Seniors Would Have to Pay More for Prescription Drugs. If Judge O’Connor sides with Republican lawmakers, seniors would have to pay more for prescription drugs because the Medicare “donut” hole got reopened. From 2010 to 2016, “More than 11.8 million Medicare beneficiaries have received discounts over $26.8 billion on prescription drugs – an average of $2,272 per beneficiary,” according to a January 2017 CMS report. In Iowa, 51,596 seniors each saved an average of $1,058.

Because Judge O’Connor Sided With Republicans, Insurance Companies Could Have the Power to Limit the Care You Get, Even If You Have Insurance Through Your Employer

  • Insurance Companies Do Not Have to Provide the Coverage You Need. The Affordable Care Act made comprehensive coverage more available by requiring insurance companies to include “essential health benefits” in their plans, such as maternity care, hospitalization, substance abuse care and prescription drug coverage. Before the ACA, people had to pay extra for separate coverage for these benefits. For example, in 2013, 75 percent of non-group plans did not cover maternity care, 45 percent did not cover substance abuse disorder services, and 38 percent did not cover mental health services. Six percent did not even cover generic drugs.
  • Reinstate Lifetime and Annual Limits. Repealing the Affordable Care Act means insurance companies would be able to impose annual and lifetime limits on coverage.
  • Large Employers Could Choose to Follow Any State’s Guidance, Enabling Them Put Annual and Lifetime Limits on Their Employees’ Health Care. Without the ACA’s definition of essential health benefits (EHB) in even some states, states could eliminate them altogether. Large employers could choose to apply any state’s standard, making state regulations essentially meaningless. Because the prohibition on annual and lifetime limits only applies to essential health benefits, this change would allow employers to reinstate annual and lifetime limits on their employees’ coverage.

Because Judge O’Connor Sided With Republicans, Medicaid Expansion Would Be Repealed

Fifteen million people have coverage through the expanded Medicaid program, including 150,000 in Iowa.

Iowans Stand Up to Say, “It’s Time to End the Republican War on Health Care”

Local Health Care Advocates Join Protect Our Care to Call for an End to GOP Attacks on Iowans’ Health Care

State Rep. Bruce Hunter speaks in Des Moines, Iowa.

DES MOINES, IOWA- This morning, Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour arrived in Des Moines to call attention to the ongoing Republican war on health care care. Hosted by Raygun and headlined by State Rep. Bruce Hunter and cancer survivor Laura Packard, the event highlighted the actions Republicans are taking to harm Iowans’ care and called on the GOP to work instead to protect our care.

“I’m not sure what exactly David Young is working for. You may think he’s working for his big donors but this is an issue to large corporations, too,” said Mike Draper, owner of Raygun. “I would like to see not only the ACA stay in place, but be improved upon, and improved upon thoughtfully,”

Draper was echoed by State Rep. Bruce Hunter.

“Tell our elected officials that we want health care that actually works for Iowa and the rest of the country,” said Rep. Hunter, who spoke of Iowa Republicans’ privatization of Medicaid and the harm it has brought to Iowans. “It’s estimated that over 40,000 people in the state of Iowa alone have had their benefits drastically cut… To say that it is a disaster is not hyperbole.”

The stakes of the event were made clear by Packard.

“I’m alive because of the Affordable Care Act,” said Packard. “I’m a stage four cancer survivor and I’m on this tour to defend our attacks against the GOP. President Trump may have blocked me on Twitter, but he can’t stop me and the American people from fighting to protect our care.”

Rep. Hunter, Draper, and Packard were joined by Matt Sinovic, Executive Director of Progress Iowa, who spoke of the need to maintain the protections that 1.3 million Iowans with pre-existing conditions depend on, and Sue Dinsdale, Executive Director of Iowa Citizen Action Network, who called on Republicans to listen to their constituents, noting that health care is not a blue issue or a red issue but a personal one.

At today’s event, Des Moines residents, health care advocates, elected officials, and members of Protect Our Care detailed the numbers ways in which Republicans have attacked health care, and how these actions have cut coverage and increased costs for Iowans. Because of the Republican repeal-and-sabotage agenda:

  • Iowans will see their premiums rise by an average of 5.6 percent next year. It’s expected that 40 year old Iowans will face an extra $1,450 for marketplace coverage in 2019 because of Republican sabotage of the health care market.
  • In Iowa, out of pocket costs for older people could have increased by as much as $12,671 by 2026 if the House-passed American Health Care Act had become law.
  • Iowa expanded Medicaid under the ACA and the nearly 150,000 Iowans who have gained coverage because of this program would find their care at risk if the law were repealed.
  • Junk insurance plans that charge money for skimpy coverage could return to Iowa and 71,000 Iowans could lack comprehensive coverage in 2019 because they will either become uninsured or will be enrolled in junk plans that don’t provide key health benefits.
  • 46,000 Iowans who have obtained health insurance through the ACA marketplace could lose their coverage if a judge sides with President Trump and the GOP in their lawsuit; and protections for 1.3 million Iowans, including 343,000 in IA-03, living with a pre-existing condition would be in jeopardy/
  • Hundreds of billions of dollars have been cut from Medicare.
  • Dozens of hospitals in rural areas have closed, exacerbating the care and coverage gaps that exist for families in America’s rural communities.
  • Representative David Young voted for and passed a health care repeal bill that would cause 23 million people to lose coverage and gut protections for people with pre-existing condition; voted for a budget amendment that would cut Medicaid by $700 billion over ten years, $114 billion in a single year alone; voted for a tax scam that doubled as a sneaky repeal of the Affordable Care Act  by kicking 13 million people off of their insurance and raising premiums by double digits for millions more.

Later today, “Care Force One” will head to Minneapolis, Minnesota. For more information, please visit protectourcarebustour.com.

Cedar Falls Local Leaders Stand Up to Say, “It’s Time to End the Republican War on Health Care”

Local Health Care Advocates Join Protect Our Care to Call for an End to GOP Attacks on Iowans’ Health Care

Black Hawk County Supervisor Chris Schwartz speaks in front of Care Force One in Cedar Falls.

CEDAR FALLS, IOWA- This afternoon, Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour arrived in Cedar Falls to call attention to the ongoing Republican war on health care care. Headlined by Black Hawk County Supervisor Chris Schwartz and cancer survivor Laura Packard, the event highlighted the actions Republicans are trying to harm Iowans’ care and called on the GOP to work instead to protect our care.

“I’m alive because of the Affordable Care Act,” said Packard. “I’m a stage four cancer survivor and I’m on this tour to defend our attacks against the GOP. President Trump may have blocked me on Twitter, but he can’t stop me and the American people from fighting to protect our care.”

“Rod Blum has never had to worry about his health care,” said Schwartz. “Rod Blum has never had to worry about losing his home because someone in his family got sick. Rod Blum doesn’t have to decide between paying for his medication and paying his utilities… Every family is going to have a crisis at some point, and if we don’t have the Affordable Care Act in place, I feel sorry for the future.”

Packard and Schwartz were joined by small business owner Dave Deibler, who talked about the inability of his wife to obtain coverage before the ACA due to her pre-existing condition, as well as Ruth Strong and Sherry Kiskunas, Black Hawk County residents who spoke of the pre-existing conditions they and their loved ones have, the access they have gained to care under the ACA, and  the harms repeal would bring to Iowans of all backgrounds.

The full event can be seen here.

At today’s event, Cedar Falls residents, health care advocates, elected officials and members of Protect Our Care detailed the numbers ways in which Republicans have attacked health care, and how these actions have cut coverage and increased costs for Iowans. Because of the Republican repeal-and-sabotage agenda:

  • Iowans will see their premiums rise by an average of 5.6 percent next year. It’s expected that 40 year old Iowans will face an extra $1,450 for marketplace coverage in 2019 because of Republican sabotage of the health care market.
  • In Iowa, out of pocket costs for older people could have increased by as much as $12,671 by 2026 if the House-passed American Health Care Act had become law.
  • Iowa expanded Medicaid under the ACA and the nearly 150,000 Iowans who have gained coverage because of this program would find their care at risk if the law were repealed.
  • Junk insurance plans that charge money for skimpy coverage could return to Iowa and 71,000 Iowans could lack comprehensive coverage in 2019 because they will either become uninsured or will be enrolled in junk plans that don’t provide key health benefits.
  • 46,000 Iowans who have obtained health insurance through the ACA marketplace could lose their coverage if a judge sides with President Trump and the GOP in their lawsuit; and protections for 1.3 million Iowans, including 318,300 in IA-01, living with a pre-existing condition would be in jeopardy.
  • Hundreds of billions of dollars have been cut from Medicare.
  • Dozens of hospitals in rural areas have closed, exacerbating the care and coverage gaps that exist for families in America’s rural communities.
  • Representative Rod Blum voted for and passed a health care repeal bill that would cause 23 million people to lose coverage and gut protections for people with pre-existing condition; voted for a budget amendment that would cut Medicaid by $700 billion over ten years, $114 billion in a single year alone; voted for a tax scam that doubled as a sneaky repeal of the Affordable Care Act  by kicking 13 million people off of their insurance and raising premiums by double digits for millions more.

Next Monday, “Care Force One” will head to Des Moines. For more information, please visit protectourcarebustour.com.

Why Iowans’ Insurance Is Getting Even More Expensive: The Trump Administration and Washington Republicans Keep Sabotaging Health Care

Washington, D.C. – As preliminary Iowa rate filings for 2019 individual-market health insurance indicated  premium increases due to Washington Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage agenda, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“For the past year and a half, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have engaged in a deliberate, aggressive campaign to undermine health care and now families in Iowa are being asked to pay the price. While insurance companies make huge profits and enjoy record tax breaks from Republicans, they are planning to charge working families even more. Until we stop Republicans’ war on health care, health care experts predict that rates will keep rising by double digits. Washington Republicans should start working on bipartisan solutions to make coverage more affordable, instead of helping their friends in the insurance industry make another buck on the backs of hardworking Iowans.”

From the Insurance Company:

Medica: Rates Increasing Due To Health Individuals Leaving The Marketplace. “Medica Vice President Geoff Bartsh said the pool of Iowans buying individual insurance policies continues to shrink, as relatively healthy people leave and sicker people stay. That means his company still faces uncertain risks in offering coverage here.” [Des Moines Register, 6/21]

Why Iowans’ Insurance Is Getting Even More Expensive: The Trump Administration and Washington Republicans Keep Sabotaging Health Care

While spending most of last year trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and waging a war on our health care, President Trump and Republicans in Congress have also used their control of Washington to actively undermine the Health Insurance Marketplaces every chance they get – leading insurance companies to raise premiums for 2018 and 2019 and, in some cases, forcing them out of the individual market altogether. Washington Republicans’ goal is simple: sabotage and undermine the Affordable Care Act, then blame everyone but themselves for the consequences of their actions. President Trump keeps rooting for disaster, saying that “The best thing we can do…is let Obamacare explode” and “Let it be a disaster because we can blame that on the Democrats.

Now, initial rate filings in Iowa forecast rate hikes again this fall because of Republican sabotage.

Republicans never ended their war on our health care. After Congress failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Trump Administration is aggressively sabotaging our health care system and refusing to work to make coverage better and more affordable.

  • Experts from AARP, the Congressional Budget Office, and a wide range of other nonpartisan organizations agree that Republican actions are forcing up health care costs.
  • Republicans in Congress are supporting the Administration’s many actions to undermine health care, despite widespread opposition from patient and disease groups, doctors, nurses, hospitals, plus health care and consumer advocates.
  • The Trump Administration officials keep rewriting the rules to let big insurance companies cover fewer and fewer services while charging people more and more. The sabotage doesn’t stop there: last year the Administration fired many of the community assisters who help people enroll in health care; this year they are planning more enrollment cuts, making it even harder to sign up for coverage.
  • And now, Republicans are encouraging insurance companies to sell more junk plans that don’t have to cover basic care like hospitalization and prescription drugs, and that are allowed to charge people with pre-existing conditions more or even deny them coverage altogether. In Iowa, no short-term plans available cover maternity care, and only 33 percent of plans cover prescription drugs.

This could have been avoided: if Republicans had stopped sabotaging health care, American families wouldn’t be facing another huge increase this fall.

  • Even the Trump Administration has admitted that the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplaces had been stabilizing prior to them coming into office.
  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had predicted only modest rate increases if Republicans hadn’t sabotaged the markets.
  • Even Senate Republicans admitted this fall’s upcoming rate hikes were “avoidable,” but then they torched bipartisan stabilization talks at the last minute, prioritizing partisan politics over their last opportunity to help American families afford health care next year.

The Trump Administration’s sabotage will punish Americans by jacking up premiums again, compounding the damage done last year, when Republican sabotage pushed rates up by a national average of 37 percent, and 88 percent in Iowa.

  • The Republican tax bill’s repeal of a key Affordable Care Act provision and the Trump Administration’s junk plan proposal will increase individual market premiums in Iowa by an average 15.8 percent this fall, according to a recent Urban Institute study.
  • This sabotage-driven rate hike will make the damage Republicans inflicted last year through repeal attempts and sabotage even worse.
  • Higher premiums will mean fewer working families can afford coverage: during the first year of the Trump Administration, millions more Americans joined the ranks of the uninsured – the highest increase since Gallup started tracking the uninsured rate.

Despite Republican sabotage, the Affordable Care Act has improved Iowans’ care.

  • 53,217 Iowans signed up for Marketplace coverage this year.
  • Thanks to the Marketplace and Medicaid expansion, Iowa’s uninsured rate fell by 3.3 percent between 2013 and 2016 as Iowans have gained access to affordable coverage.
  • Before today’s announcement, the Urban Institute predicted that Iowa premiums for 2019 could rise 15.8 percent more because of the Trump Administration’s junk plan proposal and the Republican tax bill’s repeal of a key Affordable Care Act coverage incentive.
  • Even despite sabotage, Affordable Care Act subsidies help keep coverage affordable for 85 percent of Iowa Marketplace consumers, whose average 2018 premium is $122 per month.
  • But because of the Republican sabotage agenda, many middle-income Iowans could pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more than they would have otherwise.

Iowans won’t forget that Republicans and the Trump Administration keep forcing up health care costs to score political points.

  • Health care costs are a top issue in nearly every major issue-ranked poll in 2018.
  • Voters overwhelmingly trust Democrats over Republicans on health care costs.
  • In poll after poll, voters resoundingly reject President Trump and Congressional Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage campaign against the Affordable Care Act.

KEY QUOTES

America’s Health Insurance Plans: Administration’s DOJ Decision Would “Cause Rates To Go Even Higher For Older Americans And Sicker Patients.” “Zeroing out the individual mandate penalty should not result in striking important consumer protections, such as guaranteed issue and community rating rules that help those with pre-existing conditions. Removing those provisions will result in renewed uncertainty in the individual market, create a patchwork of requirements in the states, cause rates to go even higher for older Americans and sicker patients, and make it challenging to introduce products and rates for 2019. Instead, we should focus on advancing proven solutions that ensure affordability for all consumers. [AHIP, 6/8/18]

Associated Press: Administration’s Decision Could “Nudge Premiums Even Higher.” “The Trump administration’s decision to stop defending in court the Obama health law’s popular protections for consumers with pre-existing conditions could prove risky for Republicans in the midterm elections — and nudge premiums even higher.” [CNBC, 6/8/18]

Timothy Jost, Washington & Lee University Law Professor: Administration’s Decision Could Leave Millions Of Americans Facing “Denial Of Coverage Or Higher Premiums.” “Yesterday, the Trump administration’s Department of Justice dropped a bombshell in a rural Texas federal courthouse. The administration stated in a court filing (and also in letters to Congressional leaders) that it would not defend three key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If the judge in the case agrees, millions of Americans with preexisting conditions could face denial of coverage or higher premiums.” [Commonwealth Fund, 6/8/18]

Ceci Connolly, Alliance Of Community Health Plans: Administration’s Decision Decision Could Spark Fresh Market Instability. “Ceci Connolly, president of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, called the legal position ‘troubling’ and warned it could spark fresh market instability. ‘At the very least it adds uncertainty at exactly the moment when plans are trying to set rates for next year,’ Connolly said in a statement. ‘At the worst, it could strip away guaranteed coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. We don’t want to return to the days when people who needed the care the most could be turned away because of their health status.’” [Modern Healthcare, 6/8/18]

Fortune: If Administration’s Decision Is Implemented, “There’s A Strong Change Insurers Would Begin Charging Sicker People Significantly More.” “To date, many low-income people have been shielded from those increases since federal subsidies to help pay premiums rise in tandem with the spikes. Middle-class families who don’t qualify for the subsidies are left either swallowing the higher premiums or forgoing coverage. If the protections for people with pre-existing conditions are ultimately shot down, there’s a strong chance insurers would begin charging sicker people significantly more for their coverage while younger and healthier Americans would see lower prices.” [Fortune, 6/11/18]

Former HHS Secretary Tom Price: GOP Actions Responsible For Premium Increases. “President Trump’s former top health official on Tuesday said the Republican tax law would raise the cost of health insurance for some Americans because it repealed a core provision of the Affordable Care Act. Tom Price, Trump’s first secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said people buying insurance on government-run marketplaces will face higher prices because the tax law repealed the ACA’s individual mandate. The mandate had forced most Americans to have health coverage or face a financial penalty. ‘There are many, and I’m one of them, who believes that that actually will harm the pool in the exchange market, because you’ll likely have individuals who are younger and healthier not participating in that market, and consequently that drives up the cost for other folks within that market,’ Price said at the World Health Care Conference in Washington.” [Washington Post, 5/1/18]

America’s Health Insurance Plans: Republican Sabotage Will “Drive Up The Rate Of Premium Increases.” “Policies that disproportionately draw healthy consumers away from the individual market, like expanding access to short-term plans, will likely have an even more devastating effect on affordability, choice and competition. This will further result in adverse selection, drive up the rate of premium increases, and exacerbate affordability issues for many other people.” [America’s Health Insurance Plans Letter to HHS, 4/20/18]

Cynthia Cox, Kaiser Family Foundation: “In The Absence Of Efforts To Undermine The Market, We Would Be Seeing A Period Of Relatively Small Premium Increases.” “‘In the absence of efforts to undermine the market, we would be seeing a period of relatively small premium increases, driven mostly by the underlying growth in health care costs,’ said Cynthia Cox, the lead author of the Kaiser Family Foundation report. ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re in for another year of double-digit premium increases. And if that does happen, it would be in large part due to policy changes that are happening.’” [Huffington Post, 5/18/18]

Kris Haltmeyer, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Vice President: “With The Repeal Of The Individual Mandate And The Failure Of Congress To Enact Stabilization Legislation, We Are Expecting Premiums To Go Up Substantially.” Kris Haltmeyer, a vice president at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, told reporters that the premium increases were in part due to the repeal of ObamaCare’s individual mandate in the Republican tax reform bill in December. He also cited lawmakers’ failure to pass a bill aimed at shoring up the market, which fell apart earlier this year amid a partisan dispute over abortion restrictions. ‘With the repeal of the individual mandate and the failure of Congress to enact stabilization legislation, we are expecting premiums to go up substantially,’ Haltmeyer said. He estimated that average premium increases nationwide will be in the ‘low teens,’ but that there will be major variation across areas, ranging from the low single digits to up to 70 or 80 percent.” [The Hill, 5/23]

New York Times Editorial Board: “The Administration’s Health Care Sabotage Efforts Have Already Had A Big Impact”: A 30-Percent Premium Increase. “The administration’s health care sabotage efforts have already had a big impact — but not the kind of impact officials promised. Insurance companies raised average premiums for 2018 A.C.A. policies by 30 percent. This has mostly hurt middle-class families who have to pay full freight for health insurance because they make too much money to qualify for subsidies and don’t get coverage through their employer. Few experts were surprised when the Commonwealth Fund found that the percentage of American adults who did not have health insurance jumped to 15.5 percent this year, from 12.7 percent before Mr. Trump took office. Experts say those numbers could climb higher still when the penalty for not having insurance goes away next year.” [NYT, 5/3/18]

Commonwealth Fund: Rollback Of Health Insurance Gains Spurred By “Actions By The Current Administration.” “The marked gains in health insurance coverage made since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 are beginning to reverse, according to new findings from the latest Commonwealth Fund ACA Tracking Survey. The coverage declines are likely the result of two major factors: 1) lack of federal legislative actions to improve specific weaknesses in the ACA and 2) actions by the current administration that have exacerbated those weaknesses. These include the administration’s deep cuts in advertising and outreach during the marketplace open-enrollment periods, a shorter open enrollment period, and other actions that collectively may have left people with a general sense of confusion about the status of the law. Signs point to further erosion of insurance coverage in 2019: the repeal of the individual mandate penalty included in the 2017 tax law, recent actions to increase the availability of insurance policies that don’t comply with ACA minimum benefit standards, and support for Medicaid work requirements.” [Commonwealth Fund, 5/1/18]

Center For American Progress: “Combined, The Recent Tax Law’s Repeal Of The Individual Mandate And The Administration’s Short-Term Plan Rule Will Undermine The Individual Insurance Market And Increase Premiums For ACA-Compliant Coverage.” “Last year, as part of the tax law, Congress eliminated the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate penalty. Given the mandate’s important role in encouraging healthier people to enroll in the marketplaces, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that, in 2019, this will increase average premiums in the individual market by 10 percent. Furthermore, in February 2018, the Trump administration proposed a rule to expand short-term health insurance plans… Along with the repeal of the individual mandate penalty, this expansion of short-term plans will drive up average premiums for ACA-compliant coverage in the individual market. Recent preliminary rate filings in Virginia demonstrate that these actions are contributing to significant premium increases for marketplace coverage in 2019. In fact, some Virginia insurers specifically cited the individual mandate repeal and short-term plan rule as major factors in their rate filings… Combined, the recent tax law’s repeal of the individual mandate and the administration’s short-term plan rule will undermine the individual insurance market and increase premiums for ACA-compliant coverage.” [CAP, 5/18]

New York Times: “Rather Than Trying To Eliminate Obamacare In One Fell Swoop, [Republicans Are] Trying To Undermine It With Multiple Acts Of Sabotage – While Hoping Voters Won’t Realize Who’s Responsible For Rising Premiums And Falling Coverage.” “At the beginning of 2017, Republicans promised to release the kraken on Obamacare — to destroy the program with one devastating blow. But a funny thing happened: Voters realized that repealing the Affordable Care Act would mean taking health insurance away from tens of millions of Americans. They didn’t like that prospect — and enough Republicans balked at the backlash that Obamacare repeal fizzled. But Republicans still hate the idea of helping Americans get health care. So instead of releasing the kraken, they’ve brought on the termites. Rather than trying to eliminate Obamacare in one fell swoop, they’re trying to undermine it with multiple acts of sabotage — while hoping voters won’t realize who’s responsible for rising premiums and falling coverage.” [NYT, 5/8/18]

Washington Post Editorial Board: “The Numbers Suggest That [The ACA’s] Critics’ Sabotage Efforts Are To Blame. “The effects of the president’s underinformed instincts, enabled by the ideologues in his administration, are beginning to show up in some of the numbers, representing real pain that Americans are suffering for Mr. Trump’s deficient leadership… Obamacare critics regularly describe all problems as the inevitable result of a poorly designed law. But the numbers suggest that the critics’ sabotage efforts are to blame. After impressive declines during President Barack Obama’s second term, the fund found that the uninsured rate increased in both of the years Mr. Trump has been in office. During the campaign, Mr. Trump regularly complained that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) left too many Americans uncovered. The result of nearly a year and a half of Mr. Trump’s leadership is 4 million people added to that group.” [Washington Post, 5/8/18]

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey: 2018 Premium Increase Was Due To Federal Policy.Three factors connected to federal policy decisions are responsible for 14.7% of the 24.3% total average individual premium increase: Weakened enforcement of the Individual Mandate…Elimination of federal funding for Cost Sharing Reductions (CSR), [and] 2018 reinstatement of Health Insurance Tax…Were it not for the three factors within the control of the Federal Government, Horizon BCBSNJ’s individual premiums would have an average increase of 9.6%.” [Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, 10/17/17]

CEO of CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield: Things Are “Materially Worse” Under Trump. “Continuing actions on the part of the administration to systematically undermine the market and make it almost impossible to carry out the mission…If continued efforts at the federal level undermine the marketplaces, I would think the board would have to examine what they would want — that’s very much on their mind.” [Washington Post, 5/1/18]

Lindsey Graham: Republicans “Own The Outcome” On Health Care. “Sen. Graham told Breitbart News, ‘In October, premiums are going up. Obamacare cannot be fixed. It’s going to continue to collapse, and then, we own the outcome. By repealing the individual mandate, which is a step forward in the eyes of the public, we own the issue. We have a responsibility to do something about the collapsing Obamacare system. I believe that we’re going to get blamed more than Democrats because we stopped trying to repeal Obamacare, and to suggest that we don’t own it is just simply politically naive.’ Graham continued, ‘It can hurt us in 2018. It can hurt by our base feeling like we betrayed them. It can hurt us from people suffering from Obamacare, like we don’t have a solution. It will energize Democrats. It can undercut everything we did on the tax cut side.’” [Breitbart, 2/6/18]

Rep. Charlie Dent: “We, The Republican Party…Own” Health Care Now. “Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) argued Friday that President Trump was ‘ill-advised’ to end key ObamaCare payments, warning that the GOP now ‘owns’ whatever happens to ObamaCare. ‘I think the president is ill-advised to take this course of action because … we, the Republican Party, will own this,’ Dent, a key House moderate who is retiring from Congress at the end of his term, said on CNN. Asked about Trump’s previous comments blaming problems with ObamaCare on former President Barack Obama, Dent pointed out that Republicans currently control the White House and have majorities in both chambers of Congress. ‘Barack Obama is a former president. President Trump is the president and he’s a Republican, and we control the Congress,’ Dent said. ‘So we own the system now. We’re going to have to figure out a way to stabilize this situation … This is on us.’” [The Hill, 10/13/17]

Washington Post: “The Pottery Barn Rule Comes To Mind: You Break It, You Own It.” “This is not ‘letting’ Obamacare fail. Many nonpartisan experts believe that these active measures are likely to undermine the pillars of the 2010 law and hasten the collapse of the marketplaces. The Pottery Barn rule comes to mind: You break it, you own it. Yes, the plate you just shattered had some cracks in it. But if you dropped it on the ground, the store is going to blame you.” [Washington Post, 10/13/17]

Washington Post: “Trump’s Not Going To Be Able To Avoid Blame For Kneecapping Obamacare.” [Washington Post, 10/13/17]

“After Months Of Pinning The Blame For Obamacare’s Shortcomings On Democrats And Watching His Own Party Fail To Act, President Donald Trump Just Took Ownership Of A Struggle That’s Consumed Republicans For Seven Years.” “After months of pinning the blame for Obamacare’s shortcomings on Democrats and watching his own party fail to act, President Donald Trump just took ownership of a struggle that’s consumed Republicans for seven years. Trump’s decision late Thursday to end government subsidies to insurers to help lower-income Americans afford to use their coverage under the Affordable Care Act was the most drastic step he’s taken to undermine his predecessor’s signature achievement. It also lobbed a live bomb into the laps of Republicans lawmakers 13 months before congressional elections after he publicly berated the party’s Senate leadership for being unable to keep a longstanding promise to repeal the law.” [Bloomberg, 10/13/17]

The American People Agree: President Trump And Congressional Republicans Are Playing Politics With People’s Health Care.  A poll conducted last September found that 61 percent of voters believed President Trump was “trying to make the Affordable Care Act fail,” and 64 percent of voters said Trump is “playing politics with people’s health care.” The poll also found that the American people seriously disapprove of how Republicans in Congress are treating health care: 80 percent of voters disapprove while only 20 percent approve. [Hart Research, 9/5/17]

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.

A GOP Senator Held A Town Hall Yesterday: Health Care Dominated the Discussion

In Charles City, Iowa yesterday, GOP Sen. Joni Ernst held the first town hall by a Republican senator since four of her colleagues held a press conference announcing their iteration of the least popular bill in three decades, legislation which would raise costs, lower options, remove protections for pre-existing conditions and gut Medicaid. Sen. Ernst’s constituents had one topic most on their mind: health care. And perhaps unsurprisingly, they were not thrilled with the GOP’s latest plan. Maybe the Republican Senate caucus should start listening to the American people, just 24% of whom support the bill?

Des Moines Register: Joni Ernst is ‘leaning yes’ on Graham-Cassidy health care bill: “Kill the bill. Don’t kill us.”

“Many in the crowd of about 75 weren’t so sure the proposal could deliver. In one impassioned exchange, Tami Haught, a community organizer from Nashua, told Ernst that she has been living with HIV since 1996, and worried the changes proposed in the bill could make her ongoing treatment unaffordable. Before treatment breakthroughs, Haught said, she felt like she was living to die. Now, ‘I am living to live, but I need access to my care, treatment and lifesaving medications,’ she said. ‘I will die without them.’ Haught, who buys her insurance on Iowa’s individual market and said she was arrested outside Ernst’s Washington, D.C., office earlier this year during a health care protest, called Graham-Cassidy ‘one of worst versions of the health care repeal that has come out.’ ‘We will not let this tea-party GOP kill us now without a fight,’ she told Ernst. ‘Kill the bill. Don’t kill us.’”

Globe Gazette: Ernst shifts health care blame on Democrats at Charles City town hall: “Ethically, do you see it as your responsibility to ensure the state cannot offer a waiver so that they abandon me?”

“Those in attendance, however, continued to express doubts with the Graham-Cassidy bill, including Laura Wright of Decorah, who fears she will lose valuable medication under the new plan. ‘If I don’t have that, I become a cripple at 55 or 60,’ she told Ernst through tears. ‘Ethically, do you see it as your responsibility to ensure the state cannot offer a waiver so that they abandon me?’ She added that rural areas are at risk of losing a significant part of Medicaid funds through the new bill.”

KCRG: Ernst hears harsh words on health care at town hall meeting: “You have a voice, Senator. You have a voice. Show your backbone”

“Ernst invited her constituents to bring their opinions about the latest health care bill and other topics. Several of those in attendance didn’t hold back. ‘Senator Grassley said last night he couldn’t name anything good in it but he was going to vote for it because politically he had promised. That’s a piss-poor way to run a government,’ said one attendee. ‘You have a voice, Senator. You have a voice. Show your backbone,’ said another.”