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Medicaid Archives — Page 4 of 8 — Protect Our Care

Protect Our Care Statement on Arkansas’ Draconian Medicaid Plan

The Trump Administration just approved yet another damaging proposal to cut Medicaid, this time in Arkansas. The newly approved waiver, which imposes a red-tape-heavy work requirement that places first-in-the-nation burdens on Arkansas Medicaid enrollees with jobs and on those with disabilities, threatens 60,000 Arkansans and has been deemed even “more punitive” than Kentucky’s draconian waiver by the Arkansas Times.

Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Arkansas is the latest state to fall for the Trump Administration’s wrongheaded push to cut Medicaid and leave more vulnerable citizens without coverage. Analysis after analysis after analysis after analysis shows that these Medicaid requirements actually make it harder for lower-income people to find a job and stay at work, and really have only one aim: denying people coverage. By imposing onerous monthly paperwork requirements on working people and forcing Arkansans with disabilities to re-prove their exempt status every two months, today’s Arkansas plan breaks new ground in needless and ideologically-driven cruelty.

“In another dangerous precedent, the Trump Administration has refused to affirm what the Affordable Care Act says in black and white: Medicaid expansion dollars are only available to expand Medicaid, and Arkansas’ blatantly unacceptable proposal to kick those making between around $12,000 and $17,000 a year off the rolls is illegal and wrong. This cruel proposal should be rejected outright.

“Unfortunately, Arkansas is the latest state taking its cues from the Trump Administration’s relentless war on Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Unless President Trump and the Administration cease their attacks, states like Arkansas will keep following them down this dark path, and Americans across the country will keep losing their coverage. Enough is enough – it’s time for the GOP to end its war on Americans’ care.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT THE STUDIES SHOW: COSTS UP, COVERAGE DOWN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week in the War on Health Care

The Trump Administration continued its unprecedented assault on the American health care system this week. Here’s what happened this week in Republicans’ war on health care – and how polls and rallies across the country showed the Administration is fighting a losing battle with the American people:

SABOTAGE STRIKE ONE: 18% PREMIUM INCREASES AND “THE HEALTH OF MILLIONS” AT RISK

Last week, the Trump Administration announced a proposal to move forward with short-term, junk insurance plans – the Administration’s latest form of sabotage. On Monday, a bombshell Urban Institute study found that these short-term junk plans will cause an average premium increase of 18 percent in 43 states, making clear just how high the cost of the GOP’s sabotage efforts will be for Americans.

The Urban Institute wasn’t the only entity which questioned these plans, however. They were also savaged by the nation’s leading editorial boards:

Washington Post: This Trump Administration Health-Care Rule Would Return Us to the Bad Old Days.The department’s plan would allow insurance companies to sell virtually unregulated health policies. This would signal a return to the bad old days when insurers could sharply limit benefits, impose caps on coverage and discriminate against people with preexisting conditions… Allowing healthy people to buy junk insurance plans is not worth risking sick and vulnerable people’s access to real coverage.” [2/26/18]

New York Times: Trump Tries to Kill Obamacare By a Thousand Cuts. “Not mentioned in the department’s talking points is the fact that these policies do not cover things like mental health services, substance abuse treatment, cancer drugs and maternity care. As a result, people who buy skimpy plans could end up being hit with exorbitant bills if they actually need medical care… The cost for [the Administration’s] rage will be the health care of millions of low-income and middle-class families.” [2/21/18]

Los Angeles Times: The Trump Administration Wants to Cut Premiums for the Healthy at the Expense of the Sick. Again. “These plans don’t have to comply with Obamacare’s insurance reforms, which means they typically provide much less coverage — and that they may not be as cheap, or as available, for people with preexisting conditions. Oh and yes, it would likely cost the taxpayers more.” [2/26/18]

Baltimore Sun: Trump’s Latest Effort to Undermine the ACA Makes Maryland Action All the More Crucial. “If the Trump administration’s goal was to increase the ranks of the uninsured, it could scarcely have thought of a better policy than the one it announced Tuesday… Coupled with the end of the federal requirement that most taxpayers buy insurance or pay a penalty, the administration has come up with a recipe for destabilizing individual insurance markets and putting coverage out of reach for those who really need it.” [2/20/18]

Bloomberg View: A New Way to Wreck Obamacare.Don’t be misled by the seeming modesty of this idea. It’s an impressive combination of bad policy and bad faith… If the courts fail to stop the change to short-term health insurance, states ought to step in, [place] their own time limits on short-term policies, and demand that such plans cover the health care people need. Sadly, people in states that won’t provide this protection will be left waiting for leaders in Washington who will.” [2/23/18]

SABOTAGE STRIKE TWO: PREMIUM INCREASES AND FURTHER MARKET DESTABILIZATION

Last month, the Department of Labor proposed a rule promoting association health plans (AHPs). This week, Avalere released a new study which found that this proposed rule would cause premiums for individual and small-group plans to rise 4% and reduce Affordable Care Act plans enrollment by as many as 4.3 million, further destabilizing the marketplace.

It was the second study in three days to conclude the sabotage agenda being pushed by Donald Trump and his Administration will have massive negative consequences on Americans’ care.

SABOTAGE STRIKE THREE: LESS CONFIDENCE AND LESS COVERAGE

For more than a year, the Trump Administration and its GOP allies in Congress have been carrying out an extensive sabotage campaign designed to harm the Affordable Care Act. While many analyses have found the effect this has had on premiums and the open enrollment period, a new report from the Commonwealth Fund analyzed another aspect of this sabotage: its effect on consumer confidence.

“Among survey respondents who were extremely pessimistic about their ability to maintain their marketplace or Medicaid coverage going forward,” the report found, “nearly half pointed to actions by the Trump administration and Congress as the main source of their unease.”

Additionally, the report found that those with insurance through the ACA marketplace or Medicaid were “significantly less likely” to have confidence that they would be able to keep their insurance, with 32 responding it was because “they didn’t think the Trump administration would carry out the ACA” and 15 percent “[expecting] Congress to repeal the law.”

“Last year’s debate over the ACA likely affected some uninsured adults’ decisions not to shop for marketplace coverage,” the report continued, noting 26 percent of those asked said they did not because they thought the law was going to be repealed, underscoring the effects this sabotage campaign has had.

The report’s conclusion? “As our findings suggest, policy changes could increase coverage, including greater outreach and advertising in all states and reforms to improve plan affordability.” The most specific suggestion: Medicaid expansion “remains the most obvious means for expanding coverage nationwide.” We agree! Now if only President Trump and the GOP would listen…

STUDY CONFIRMS: MEDICAID A LIFELINE FOR OPIOID ADDICTION DESPITE FALSE RHETORIC

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

As President Trump hosted a White House summit to address the opioid crisis, this analysis made clear that Medicaid is a lifeline for those battling the scourge of opioid addiction, further undercutting false GOP claims about the program and showing that Republican plans to gut the Medicaid program would have disastrous ramifications for the millions of Americans courageously doing so. If they truly care about ending this crisis, President Trump and GOP Members of Congress should end their partisan war on health care and immediately call for the expansion of Medicaid in states which have not done so.

POLLS CONFIRM: ACA MORE POPULAR THAN EVER, MEDICAID IS WORKING, HEALTH CARE TOP ISSUE ON VOTERS’ MINDS

This morning, the February Kaiser tracking poll came out, finding that 54% of those surveyed had a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act, the highest proportion supporting the ACA in the nine years the poll has been conducted. The poll also found that:

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

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

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

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: AMERICANS ACROSS THE COUNTRY FIGHT BACK

More than what polls can show, however, is the grassroots momentum sweeping the country against the Trump Administration’s sabotage. Over the past week, health care advocates of all backgrounds came together in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia to launch the Enough is Enough campaign. The campaign calls on voters to tell their Senators that the GOP war on health care and attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act must end.

Medicaid Remains Key In Addressing Opioid Epidemic, Trump’s Repeal and Sabotage Agenda Sets Back Effort to Address the Crisis

As the White House continues to pay lip service regarding the need to address our nation’s growing opioid epidemic, its policy does the opposite — stripping resources from the very programs working to address the crisis.

The Trump Administration has relentlessly attacked and sabotaged Medicaid, which helps people with opioid addiction receive care, paying for one-fifth of all substance abuse treatment nationwide. Beyond slashing funds for Medicaid, Trump has also encouraged states to impose burdensome work requirements, mandating that Medicaid enrollees work a set amount of hours each week and jump through administrative hurdles to prove their employment status. Adding insult to injury, the Trump Administration has proposed a 95% cut to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is charged with coordinating the federal response to the nation’s raging opioid crisis – a cut proposed for the second year in a row.

These policies are counterproductive at best, cruel and life-threatening at worst. Medicaid has played a central role in responding to the opioid epidemic, and cutting access will only make it harder for states to address the crisis.

MEDICAID GIVES STATES MORE RESOURCES TO ADDRESS THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC

Medicaid Is A Sustainable Source Of Funding Compared To Short-Term Grants. “Now that more people with SUDs are eligible for Medicaid, states can significantly improve treatment for people with SUDs by improving Medicaid-covered services. Medicaid can be a sustainable funding source for providers, as opposed to capped, short-term grant funding.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2/28/18]

Thanks To Medicaid Expansion, The Uninsured Rate For Opioid-Related Hospitalizations Dropped In Expansion States. “In Medicaid expansion states, the uninsured rate for opioid-related hospitalizations plummeted by 79 percent, from 13.4 percent in 2013 (the year before expansion implementation) to 2.9 percent in 2015.  The decline in non-expansion states was a much more modest 5 percent, from 17.3 percent in 2013 to 16.4 percent in 2015.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2/28/18]

[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2/28/18]

MEDICAID EXPANSION HAS INCREASED ACCESS TO TREATMENT

Medicaid Helps Make Buprenorphine And Naloxone, Drugs Used To Treat Opioid Use Disorder, Affordable. “These data are consistent with other evidence that Medicaid expansion is improving access to care for people with opioid use and other substance use disorders. Medicaid makes medications like buprenorphine and naloxone, which are prescribed to combat opioid use disorders, affordable for beneficiaries.“ [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2/28/18]

Medicaid Expansion Has Improved Access To Substance Treatment Services. “Evidence also suggests that Medicaid expansion improved access to substance use treatment services more broadly. After expanding Medicaid, Kentucky experienced a 700 percent increase in Medicaid beneficiaries using substance use treatment services.  Use of treatment services rose nationally as well; one study found that expanding Medicaid reduced the unmet need for substance use treatment by 18.3 percent.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2/28/18]

In Ohio, Medicaid Has Helped Those With Substance Use Disorders Access Mental Health Services. “An Ohio study found that 59 percent of people with opioid-use disorders who had gained Medicaid coverage under expansion reported improved access to mental health care. Nationwide, the share of people forgoing mental health care due to cost fell by about one-third as the ACA, including Medicaid expansion, took effect.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2/28/18]

THE REPUBLICAN CLAIM THAT MEDICAID CONTRIBUTED TO THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC IS FALSE

PolitiFact: “No evidence to prove Medicaid expansion is fueling the opioid crisis.” [PolitiFact, 10/23/17]

CBPP: States That Have Expanded Medicaid Have Reduced Unmet Need For Substance Abuse Treatment. “Expansion states have reduced the unmet need for the treatment of substance use disorders by 18 percent. All states’ Medicaid programs cover at least one medically assisted treatment medication, and the Medicaid expansion has granted health coverage to an estimated 99,000 people with an opioid use disorder.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 10/5/17]

Opioid Deaths In Medicaid Expansion States Predates The Affordable Care Act.  “The opioid epidemic started decades before Medicaid expanded … Expansion states did have relatively more drug deaths than non-expansion states in 2015, but the upward trend in deaths in expansion states started in 2010, four years before the Medicaid expansion began. The results are the same if we exclude the six early expansion states. By the simplest criterion for causality, that causes must precede effects, these results cannot be taken as evidence of Medicaid expansion causing these deaths.” [Health Affairs, 8/23/17]

Medicaid Is Part Of The Solution To Curbing Opioid Epidemic. “Medicaid is the most powerful vehicle available to states to fund coverage of prevention and treatment for their residents at risk for or actively battling opioid addiction….The greatest opportunity to address this crisis is in those states that have elected to expand Medicaid, given the greater reach of the program, additional tools available, and the increased availability of federal funds.” [State Health Reform Assistance Network, 7/16]

CDC: “There Is No Evidence Medicaid Leads To Opioid Abuse.” “The Republican argument is flawed because the Medicaid expansion began in 2014, and opioid addiction was declared an epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011. The federal science agency has also said there is no evidence that Medicaid leads to opioid abuse.” [Newsweek, 1/17/18]

Vox: “This Claim Runs Into A Basic Problem: The Concept Of Time.” “But this claim runs into a basic problem: the concept of time. Medicaid didn’t expand under Obamacare until 2014 — well after opioid overdose deaths started rising (in the late 1990s), after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011 declared the crisis an epidemic, and as the crisis became more about illicit opioids, such as heroin and fentanyl, rather than conventional opioid painkillers. ‘It’s pretty ridiculous,’ Andrew Kolodny, an opioid policy expert at Brandeis University who’s scheduled to testify at the Senate hearing, told me.” [Vox, 1/17/18]

David Wyman, Georgetown University Law Center: “Just Because A Precedes B Doesn’t Mean That A Causes B. That’s Statistics 101.”  “The witnesses included one anti-Medicaid ideologue, two local prosecutors who testified that they’ve seen a lot of addicts in their work and lots of them seem to be on Medicaid, and two experts who, tactlessly, pointed out that the causes of the opioid epidemic are many and complex, that it started years before Medicaid expansion, and that it involves patients and doctors in Medicare and private insurance as well as the uninsured… Efforts to demonize Medicaid expansion because it was launched as the opioid crisis really took off confuse correlation with causation, David Hyman of the Georgetown University Law Center warned Johnson’s committee. ‘Just because A precedes B doesn’t mean that A causes B,’ he said. ‘That’s statistics 101.’” [Los Angeles Times, 1/17/18]

Katherine Baicker, University Of Chicago Harris School Of Public Policy Dean: “I Don’t Think Anybody Would Suggest Because Overprescribing Of Opioids Poses A Series Health Risk, People Shouldn’t Go See The Doctor.” “If [Republicans] argue against Medicaid based on the idea that it potentially allows more patients to get prescriptions for opioids, they could use that same reasoning to oppose expansion of private health insurance. Expanding health insurance of any variety increases people’s access to health care. Much of that care is beneficial; some may not be, Katherine Baicker, dean of the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, told me. ‘I don’t think anybody would suggest because overprescribing of opioids poses a series health risk, people shouldn’t go see the doctor,’ Baicker said.” [Washington Post, 1/17/18]

THOSE WHO ARE MOST FAMILIAR WITH THE OPIOID CRISIS AGREE THAT MEDICAID IS CRUCIAL IN FIGHTING IT

A Panel Of Public Health Officials, Policy Experts, And Law Enforcement Officials Found Medicaid Among Most Important Programs In Combating Opioid Epidemic. Investing in Medicaid was the third most cited response when a panel of thirty experts were asked where they would put money to combat the opioid epidemic. [New York Times, 2/14/18]

Jay Unick, University Professor: Medicaid Expansion Is Most Important Intervention To Improve Opioid Epidemic. Medicaid expansion would be “the most important intervention for improving outcomes related to the opiate epidemic…all the other interventions discussed here only work if individuals have access to quality health care.” [New York Times, 2/14/18]

160 National, State, and Local Organizations Warn That Trump’s Medicaid Sabotage Will Hurt Those With Substance Use Disorders in Letter to Secretary Azar: “CMS’s Medicaid work requirements policy is directly at odds with bipartisan efforts to curb the opioid crisis…and will have a significant and disproportionately harmful effect on individuals with chronic health conditions, especially those struggling with substance use disorders (SUDs) and mental health disorders.”  [Letter, 2/15/18]

Signatories include: ADAP Advocacy Association (aaa+); Addiction Policy Forum, Advocacy Center of Louisiana; AIDS United, Alameda County Community Food Bank; American Association on Health and Disability; American Association of People with Disabilities; American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD); American Civil Liberties Union; American Federation of State; County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME); American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; American Group Psychotherapy Association; American Psychological Association; American Society of Addiction Medicine; Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare; Bailey House, Inc.; Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists; Brooklyn Defender Services; CADA of Northwest Louisiana; California Consortium of Addiction Programs & Professionals; California Hepatitis Alliance; Caring Across Generations; Caring Ambassadors Program; CASES; Center for Civil Justice; Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO); Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation; Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP); Center for Medicare Advocacy; Center for Public Representation; Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy; CHOW Project; Coalition of Medication Assisted Treatment Providers and Advocates; Colorado Center on Law and Policy; Community Access National Network (CANN); Community Catalyst; Community Health Councils; Community Legal Services of Philadelphia; Community Oriented Correctional Health Services; Community Service Society; Connecticut Legal Services; Consumer Health First; C.O.R.E. Medical Clinic, Inc.; Council on Social Work Education; CURE (Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants); DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Desert AIDS Project; Disability Rights Arkansas; Disability Rights Wisconsin; Drug Policy Alliance; EAC Network (Empower Assist Care); EverThrive Illinois; Facing Addiction with NCADD; Faces & Voices of Recovery; FedCURE; First Focus; Florida Health Justice Project, Inc.; Food & Friends; The Fortune Society; Forward Justice; Friends of Recovery – New York; Futures Without Violence; God’s Love We Deliver; Greater Hartford Legal Aid; Greenburger Center for Social and Criminal Justice; Harm Reduction Coalition; Health Law Advocates; Hep Free Hawaii; Hepatitis C Support Project/HCV Advocate; Heartland Alliance; HIV Medicine Association; Horizon Health Services; Hunger Free America; ICCA; Illinois Association of Behavioral Health; The Joy Bus; JustLeadershipUSA; Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice; The Kennedy Forum; Kentucky Equal Justice Center ; Kitchen Angels ; Justice in Aging ; Justice Consultants, LLC; Lakeshore Foundation; Law Foundation of Silicon Valley; Legal Action Center; The Legal Aid Society; Legal Council for Health Justice; Life Foundation; Live4Lali; Liver Health Connection; Maine Equal Justice Partners; MANNA (Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance); Massachusetts Law Reform Institute; McShin Foundation; Mental Health America; Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc. (MHANYS); Michigan Poverty Law Program; Minnesota Recovery Connection; Mississippi Center for Justice; NAACP; The National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health; National Alliance on Mental Illness; NAMI-NYS; National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors; National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers; National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Directors; National Association for Rural Mental Health; National Association of Social Workers; National Center for Law and Economic Justice; National Coalition Against Domestic Violence; National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Phoenix; National Council for Behavioral Health; National Council of Churches; National Disability Rights Network; National Employment Law Project; National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health; National Health Care for the Homeless Council; National Health Law Program; National HIRE Network; National Juvenile Justice Network; National LGBTQ Task Force; National Low Income Housing Coalition; National Organization for Women; The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable; NC Justice Center; New Haven Legal Assistance Association; New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse; New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services; New York Lawyers for the Public Interest; New York State Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare; Open Hands Legal Services; Osborne Association; Outreach Development Corp.; The Partnership for Drug Free Kids; PICO National Network; The Poverello Center, Inc.; Project Inform; Public Justice Center; Root & Rebound; Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition; Safer Foundation; Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law; School Social Work Association of America; Sea Island Action Network, South Carolina; The Sentencing Project; Shatterproof; Society of General Internal Medicine; Southern Center for Human Rights; Southern Poverty Law Center; Students for Sensible Drug Policy; TASC of the Capital District, Inc.; Tennessee Justice Center; Three Square Food Bank; Transitions Clinic Network; Treatment Action Group; Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC) – Illinois; Treatment Communities of America; Virginia Poverty Law Center; Western Center on Law & Poverty

As GOP Preaches Opioid Solutions, Medicaid Remains Key

Today, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released an analysis showing that states which expanded Medicaid saw higher rates of insurance coverage for people with opioid-use disorders. As the House Energy and Commerce Committee holds hearings and President Trump hosts a summit to address the opioid crisis, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“This analysis makes clear what we have been saying for months: Medicaid is a lifeline for those battling the scourge of opioid addiction, and Republican plans to gut the Medicaid program would have disastrous ramifications for the millions of Americans courageously doing so,” said Woodhouse. “This report undercuts false GOP claims and shows that Medicaid expansion increased access to substance abuse treatment, period. If they truly care about combating the opioid crisis, President Trump and GOP Members of Congress should end their partisan war on health care and immediately call for the expansion of Medicaid in states which have not done so.”

This Week in the War on Health Care — February 12-16, 2018

This week, as the President announced his budget and the Senate debated various immigration proposals, the Trump Administration continued its unprecedented assault on the American health care system. Here’s what happened this week in Republicans’ war on health care, and why the American people stood up to this Administration – and the prominent GOP legislator who joined them:

ABOUT THAT BUDGET

On Monday, President Trump released his 2019 fiscal year budget blueprint, and its most prominent feature was a series of draconian cuts to the nation’s health care programs.

The Trump budget doubled down on Congressional Republicans’ previous failed repeal attempts, calling for the implementation of Graham-Cassidy, the GOP’s worst repeal bill, which would take away health insurance from 32 million Americans, raise costs, remove protections for pre-existing conditions, and end Medicaid as we know it. The budget also called for drastic cuts to Medicare and ending funding for Planned Parenthood, continuing to target everyday Americans in an attempt to balance costs after cutting taxes for the wealthiest and corporations.

President Trump and his Administration should be ashamed – and Congress should declare the budget dead on arrival.

THE ATTACKS ON WOMEN’S HEALTH CARE CONTINUE

The Administration also ratcheted up its war on women’s health care this week. In addition to a budget defunding Planned Parenthood and slashing Medicaid, denying millions of women access to basic health care, it came out that President Trump’s Health and Human Services Department last month instructed a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group to write an official government letter providing a roadmap for state Medicaid programs to restrict women’s access to the health care provider of their choice.

Politico: “A conservative legal organization worked with the Trump administration to make it easier for states to defund Planned Parenthood.”

CNN: “The Trump administration relied on a right-wing anti-abortion rights group to draft the letter it sent to states reversing Obama-era guidance that it’s against the law to terminate Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider … the Alliance Defending Freedom calls itself a conservative Christian nonprofit organization … but the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled it a hate group for its attacks on LGBT rights.”

A BLATANT VIOLATION OF FEDERAL LAW? MEH, SAYS ALEX AZAR

On Wednesday, Blue Cross of Idaho announced that it would follow Republican Governor Butch Otter’s lead and violate federal law by offering insurance plans that don’t conform to the consumer protections mandated by the Affordable Care Act, leading the charge to take people back to a time when insurance companies could decide whether they were taken care of when they got sick. In response, newly-confirmed HHS Secretary Alex Azar refused to say he will stop the measure, despite it being a blatant violation of federal law. Secretary Azar should read the letter fifteen patients’ rights groups sent him:

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Liver Foundation, American Lung Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation, Hemophilia Federation of America, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Lutheran Services in America, March of Dimes, Mended Little Hearts, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National MS Society, National Organization for Rare Disorders: “The Federal Government Must Uphold The Requirements Of Federal Law.” “Idaho’s insurance bulletin would allow insurers to sell individual market plans that do not comply with federal law. Because the Idaho Bulletin purports to authorize the issuance of insurance coverage that is prohibited by federal law, it is legally invalid… The federal government must uphold the requirements of federal law that protect patients, their families, and the health system against these consequences. On behalf of our patients, and all Americans, we urge you to make clear that Idaho cannot authorize the issuance of health insurance coverage that violates federal law, and that any insurer that issues such plans risks enforcement action and serious penalties.” [American Cancer Society-Cancer Action Network, 2/14/18]

JOB OR NO JOB, REPUBLICANS CONTINUE SECRETLY ATTEMPTING TO REPEAL THE ACA

The Hill this week reported that Congressional Republicans, in a backdoor manner, are seeking to repeal yet another component of the Affordable Care Act: its requirement that employers with over 50 workers offer health insurance. The hypocrisy of encouraging states to cut working-age people off Medicaid, saying they should find a job if they want coverage, to telling employers they shouldn’t have to offer health coverage to their workers, is breathtaking. 151 million Americans are covered through employer-sponsored insurance, and such a move would be devastating. Unfortunately for the GOP, voters are on to their secret sabotage strategy…

POLLS CONFIRM AMERICANS ARE FED UP WITH GOP’S WAR ON HEALTH CARE

Two major polls were released this week, and both came to the same conclusion: voters are fed up with the GOP’s war on health care.

Public Policy Polling released its first national poll of the year, and offered some key findings about the state of health care:

  • Approval for the Affordable Care Act is 12 points above water (47% approval to 35% disapproval), a dramatic reversal from trends before Trump took office.
  • Over half of voters know Republicans are sabotaging health care, with 51% believing the Trump Administration is actively taking steps that will raise people’s health care costs.

Additionally, a Priorities USA memo found that independent voters continue to hold major concerns about President Trump’s war on health care, confirming that voters realize Republican sabotage is driving up insurance premiums and exacerbating the high health care costs burdening working families.

All in all, the results are clear: voters are fed up with the GOP’s posturing on health care and want real solutions that can expand coverage and lower premiums, and what they’re telling the GOP is simple: enough is enough, stop your war on our health care.

REACTION ROUNDUP: States Face Wave of Resistance to Trump-Inspired Medicaid Cuts

As states start to take advantage of the Trump Administration’s invitation to strip Medicaid coverage away from millions by imposing restrictions such as ‘work’ requirements designed to reduce access to coverage, these proposals face a wave of backlash from local editorial boards, lawmakers, health care providers, hospitals, and advocates:

Iowa (legislation to impose work requirements introduced in Feb. 2018)

Des Moines Register editorial: Medicaid bill demonizes low-income Iowans with delays, drug tests, work requirements. Iowa state Sen. Tom Greene, R-Burlington, is sponsoring Senate File 2158, a measure which “directs the Iowa Department of Human Services to seek federal approval to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients.” The paper adds, “One would think Greene, who worked as a pharmacist for four decades, would understand the importance of ensuring Iowans get care needed to be productive members of society. Then again, the part-time lawmaker was not required to pee in a cup or wait six months to enjoy his taxpayer-subsidized family coverage.” [Des Moines Register, 2/14/18]

Louisiana (expected to propose work requirements in mid-Feb. 2018)

Republican state lawmaker skeptical: “Medicaid work requirements probably would not save much money as the state tries to close a looming $1 billion budget shortfall, he added. Louisiana legislators have expressed similar concerns. ‘I’m skeptical that it’s going to be any real savings,’ said Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge.” [Louisiana Daily Comet, 2/6/18]

West Virginia (considering Medicaid work requirements as of Feb. 2018)

Charleston Gazette-Mail editorial: Work requirements don’t help people work. “Helping people achieve gainful employment and self-sufficiency is exactly the right goal. Disrupting people’s health coverage will not accomplish it. Medicaid recipients already struggle to maintain employment and support themselves. Otherwise, they wouldn’t qualify for Medicaid…A smarter, not to mention more humane, approach would be to remove as many barriers to health care access as possible for the state’s most challenged residents. The smarter approach would be to err on the side of inclusion. Cover more West Virginians, and don’t hassle them off of Medicaid month after month as their work status fluctuates.” [Charleston Gazette-Mail, 1/25/18]

Missouri (state has called for legislation to pursue work requirement)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial: Job requirements for Medicaid recipients won’t work and might actually backfire. “Tracking down these people will require state governments to expand their staffing to police the work requirement and administer the paperwork. If the work requirement is similar to that required for coverage under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, child care and transportation will have to be subsidized if it’s available. The cost savings for taxpayers is starting to look a little hazy…Ironically, researchers say that taking health insurance away from people makes it less likely they will be able to get and keep a job. This will be particularly true if, as expected, the burden of the work requirement falls most heavily on those with physical or mental impairments not yet certified as permanent disabilities.” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1/15/18]

Missouri family medicine physician: Rolling back Medicaid will worsen Missouri’s opioid crisis. “For Missourians struggling with opioid addiction, Medicaid is the difference between life and death. The medications I prescribe can help 50 percent of patients begin recovery and stay healthy in the long term. With access to these medications, I see many of my patients rebuilding their lives, advancing in their careers and enjoying life with their families. But without Medicaid, many will lose access to the treatment and medications that we know are effective. Even for those with full-time jobs, many Missourians simply don’t make enough to afford private health insurance, and Medicaid is their only option to afford health care.” [Columbia Missourian, 1/31/18]

Maine (work requirement submitted for approval on 8/2/2017)

Portland Press-Herald editorial: Medicaid limits are not what Maine voters want. “MaineCare is health care, not welfare. People on the program don’t get a check every month that discourages them from working. But they do get a chance to go to see a doctor when they are sick, or fill prescriptions that keep chronic diseases at bay. Adding more hurdles to applying for benefits will inevitably result in eligible people failing to be enrolled. The bureaucratic nightmare of trying to figure out who has received how much coverage during their lifetimes would slow the process for everyone … Cutting off someone’s health care is not going to make them more likely to work — just the opposite is true. Illness is one of the main barriers that prevents people from working.” [Portland Press Herald, 2/8/18]

Bangor Daily News editorial: The contorted logic of allowing states to require work as a condition for Medicaid. “If work requirements in a food assistance program are likely to lead to a diminished state of health for thousands of low-income adults, it’s not hard to imagine the damaging health effects of imposing work requirements in a benefit program designed explicitly to ensure that the poorest among us can access health care.” [Bangor Daily News, 1/19/18]

South Dakota (Gov. Dennis Daugaard has called for Medicaid work requirements)

Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan editorial: Be wary of what’s lurking in the details of Medicaid work requirements. “The statement also feeds the long-held generalization embraced by some people that many of those receiving some form of low-income assistance are basically living off the government dole instead of working. However, a lot of low-income people who receive Medicaid are already working but aren’t able to make ends meet or afford basic health care, which Medicaid helps provide…If handled properly, the work requirement for Medicaid proposed by Daugaard — and pushed by the White House — may impact only a small segment of recipients. If this move becomes something more than that — which, unfortunately, could be vaguely implied by Verma’s blunt remarks — then the idea may be little more than subterfuge for something else.” [Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan, 1/20/18]

Kansas (work requirement submitted for approval on 12/20/2017)

Health execs: Don’t equate work requirements with job stability. “‘If the state is going to make further changes to the KanCare program, it will put a greater burden on the state’s general fund, hospitals and providers, said Brenda Sharpe, CEO of the REACH Healthcare Foundation. ‘The misconception of who is on Medicaid is rampant.’ Sharpe also said the proposed changes fail to account for the type of jobs most low-income workers hold. For example, a construction job may be seasonal, and a retail worker’s schedule may very week by week — then throw in the need for child care. ‘If they lose their job for three months because they work in an outdoor setting, are you going to kick them off benefits for three months?… The best thing you can do to get someone to keep a job is to give them health insurance.’” [Kansas City Business Journal, 1/24/18]

Arizona (work requirement submitted for approval on 1/4/2018)

Arizona Alliance for Healthcare Security: “They have no evidence of anyone taking advantage of the system, so this just becomes another obstacle for people to overcome in order to get Medicaid benefits.” [Inside Tucson Business, 1/19/18]

Arkansas (work requirement submitted for approval on 6/30/2017)

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families: “Arkansas Works, the state’s Medicaid expansion program, has successfully provided hundreds of thousands of Arkansans with affordable health care coverage and has saved the state money in charity payments to providers for uncompensated care. But the proposed changes are designed to remove people from coverage without giving them a comparable alternative. This is not just bad policy – it runs counter to Medicaid’s core mission of providing health care coverage to low-income people.” [AACF report, 1/4/18]

Kentucky (work requirement approved on 1/12/2018)

Lexington Herald-Leader editorial: Cutting unemployment benefits won’t strengthen Ky. workforce. “The best hope for addiction treatment is Medicaid, but the state is getting ready to impose new work requirements and other hurdles to treatment and the chance at a responsible life.” [Lexington Herald-Leader, 2/14/18]

Policy analyst: “You’re spending more money to cover fewer people.” “Cost savings come from the assumption that nearly 100,000 people will drop out of Medicaid by the end of the five-year project recently approved by the federal government. For those who remain, the monthly cost of care increases faster than it would have had the state made no changes, according to the administration’s projections. ‘You’re spending more money to cover fewer people,’ said Dustin Pugel, a policy analyst for the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy in Berea and a critic of the Bevin plan. I’m not crazy about the idea of us spending more money to cover fewer people.'” [Louisville Courier Journal, 2/14/18]

Indiana Daily Student editorial: Kentucky’s Medicaid requirements hurt more than help. “There are patients on Medicaid who are disabled, need cancer treatment and have other situations that would make working impossible or incredibly difficult.” [Indiana Daily Student, 2/5/18]

Utah (work requirement submitted for approval on 8/16/2017)

Op-ed: Medicaid ‘work mandate’ is misguided policy. The 1115 waiver’s “work requirement” is a fancy term for ‘work mandate’; it is in fact designed to provide less coverage overall.  Utah children and parents will be caught in a poverty cycle. Utahns will be far less healthy than they would be with full Medicaid expansion through the Utah Decides ballot initiative.” [Utah Policy, 1/11/18]

 

Wisconsin (work requirement submitted for approval on 6/15/2017)

Policy analyst: “Requiring you to work to get healthy — there’s something backwards there.” “‘If you’re not healthy, it’s difficult to work,’ said Mike Bare, research director for Community Advocates’ Public Policy Institute in Milwaukee. ‘Requiring you to work to get healthy — there’s something backwards there.’” [Wisconsin State Journal, 1/11/18]

Madison nonprofit: Work requirements only make lives harder. “‘This is targeted at the lowest-income folks that we have out there, people who have difficult lives already,’ said Bobby Peterson, executive director of ABC for Health, a nonprofit public interest law firm in Madison. ‘We’re just making it harder for them.’” [Wisconsin State Journal, 1/11/18]

Illinois (Rauner administration developing Medicaid work requirement)

Shriver National Center on Poverty Law: A Medicaid work requirement would be cruel — and costly. “Medicaid work requirements will largely be used to punish people in dire need for forces beyond their control…Ironically, by taking crucial medical assistance away from people who are already struggling, work requirements will make finding or maintaining employment much more difficult. The fact of the matter is that Medicaid, like most other major anti-poverty programs, serves as a work support.” [Chicago Tribune, 1/23/18]

Ohio (Kasich administration preparing to submit application)

Ohio Center for Community Solutions: “To suddenly remove these resources not only dis-benefits this huge area of employment and this huge area of economic impact for providers and others, it would have drastic impacts on things like the opioid epidemic, on chronic-disease management.” [Cleveland Scene, 2/12/18]

South Carolina (McMaster administration has directed Medicaid agency to submit application)

South Carolina Hospital Association VP: “If anything, we should help them get the care they need so they can return to work and lead more fulfilling lives.” “After all, most Medicaid beneficiaries in South Carolina are already working. Among those who are not, 52 percent are disabled or too sick, while another 32 percent act as caregivers. Community-engagement requirements shouldn’t punish the sick or discriminate against those with disabilities; if anything, we should help them get the care they need so they can return to work and lead more fulfilling lives.” [The State, 2/7/18]

Tennessee (House speaker has filed Medicaid work requirements bill)

TennCare Work Plan Would Affect 86K, Cost $18.7M. “A state analysis says legislation seeking to require certain able-bodied TennCare recipients to work, volunteer or attend school would affect 86,400 people and cost the state $18.7 million annually…The $18.7 million net cost notably includes $22.3 million more in anticipated case management state costs and $3.7 million in estimated state savings from disenrollments, assuming a 2020 program start.” [U.S. News & World Report, 2/14/18]

Chattanooga Times Free Press: Nearly 87,000 adult TennCare enrollees could be affected under work requirement plan. “As many as 86,400 able-bodied adult enrollees on Tennessee’s Medicaid program could be affected by a bill that seeks to require they work, attend school, volunteer or face losing their health benefits, according to a legislative analysis … Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, said ‘the data is clear’ with proponents’ ‘ultimate’ goal being ‘to kick people off’ of TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program.” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 2/14/18]

… and 160 National, State, and Local Organizations Oppose Work Requirements in Letter to Secretary Azar: “CMS’s Medicaid work requirements policy is directly at odds with bipartisan efforts to curb the opioid crisis .. and will have a significant and disproportionately harmful effect on individuals with chronic health conditions, especially those struggling with substance use disorders (SUDs) and mental health disorders.”  [2/15/18]

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3 Facts You Should Know After Sec. Azar’s Ways and Means Hearing

HHS Secretary Alex Azar appeared before the House Ways and Means Committee today and doubled down on the Trump Administration’s war on health care. His language may have been nuanced, but the policy results would be the same. Here are three key facts you should know after his testimony today.

FACT #1: THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S OPIOID FUNDING WILL NOT BE EFFECTIVE IF IT CONTINUES PARTISAN EFFORTS TO REPEAL THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT AND GUT MEDICAID

WHAT SEC. AZAR SAID: “The President’s Budget recognizes the devastation caused by this [opioid] crisis across America, by providing a historic new investment of $10 billion in HHS funding to address the opioid crisis and serious mental illness…”

THE FACTS: While the additional funding for opioids is welcomed, it will have little to no impact if the Administration continues its partisan push to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and gut Medicaid.

  • Vox: Trump’s budget could help fight the opioid crisis — if it didn’t try to repeal Obamacare. Vox: “Medicaid is particularly important in this area. A 2014 study by Truven Health Analytics researchers found that Medicaid paid for about 25 percent — $7.9 billion of $31.3 billion — of projected public and private spending for addiction treatment in 2014. That made it the second-biggest payer of addiction treatment after all local and state government programs. Yet not only would Trump’s budget plan end the Obamacare-funded Medicaid expansion, it would also make additional cuts to Medicaid.”

FACT #2: SEC. AZAR DOUBLED DOWN ON THE PARTISAN REPEAL ATTEMPT THAT WILL RIP COVERAGE AWAY FROM TENS OF MILLIONS, RAISE COSTS FOR MILLIONS MORE, AND GUT PROTECTIONS FOR PEOPLE WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

WHAT SEC. AZAR SAID: “The Budget supports repealing Obamacare and replacing the law with flexibility for states to create free and open healthcare tailored to citizens’ needs. The two-part approach is modeled closely after the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson amendment to H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act of 2017, and also includes additional reforms to put healthcare spending on a sustainable fiscal path.”

THE FACTS: The Graham-Cassidy legislation was the worst of all the partisan repeal efforts Congress considered last year that ripped coverage away from tens of millions of people, raised costs on millions more, gutted protections for pre-existing conditions, and slashed Medicaid.

  • Analysts Agree: Every State Loses Under Graham-Cassidy and Many Working and Middle Class Families See Their Costs Increase. Multiple independent analyses agree that the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill would cut federal funding to states. Over time, every state loses because Graham-Cassidy zeroes out its block grants and ratchets down its spending on the Medicaid per capita cap. This means people would not have access to the financial assistance to help lower their health care bills, and federal Medicaid funding would no longer adjust for public health emergencies, prescription drug or other cost spikes, or other unexpected increases in need.
  • 32 Million Would Lose Health Coverage. As a result of zeroing out block grants for Marketplace tax credits and Medicaid expansion and additional cuts to Medicaid, the Graham-Cassidy bill is essentially repealing the Affordable Care Act without replacing it.
  • Graham-Cassidy Would Raise Costs For People With Pre-Existing Conditions. Graham-Cassidy would allow states to let insurance companies once again charge people with pre-existing conditions more, which could raise costs for the more than 134 million Americans that have a pre-existing condition. An individual with asthma, for example, would face a premium surcharge of $4,340. The surcharge for pregnancy would be $17,320, while it would be $142,650 more for patients with metastatic cancer.

FACT #3: SEC. AZAR DOUBLED DOWN ON THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S WAR ON MEDICAID

WHAT SEC. AZAR SAID: “Our budget proposes a new future for Medicaid that will restructure Medicaid financing, provide states with new flexibilities to better serve our communities, improve the state plan and waiver processes, and provide the right incentives to preserve the program for future generations.”

THE FACTS: The Trump Administration is doubling down on its war on Medicaid by continuing to push for the Graham-Cassidy legislation that ended Medicaid expansion, which has given 15 million people access to care, and by slashing traditional Medicaid, putting the care of millions of seniors, children, and people with disabilities at risk. The Administration’s attempts to impose onerous work requirements are not about work, but about kicking people off their health care. The fact is most people on Medicaid who can work, are working. These requirements are the opposite of what we need to be doing to help people find and keep jobs.

Job or No Job, Republicans Are Coming for Americans’ Coverage

Regarding this afternoon’s reports that Congressional Republicans will seek to repeal yet another component of the Affordable Care Act, its requirement that employers with over 50 workers offer health insurance, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Just last week, the Trump Administration was encouraging states to cut working-age people off Medicaid, saying they should find a job if they want coverage. Now, Congressional Republicans think employers shouldn’t have to offer health coverage to their workers. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. There’s no two ways about it: Republicans want to take coverage away from millions of Americans, and as Paul Ryan admitted this morning, they’ll stop at nothing in their relentless war on our care. On behalf of the 151 million Americans who are covered through employer-sponsored insurance: enough is enough. It’s time to end the Republican war on health care.”

House GOP discussing repeal of ObamaCare employer mandate
The Hill // Peter Sullivan // 2.13.18

House Republicans are in discussions about repealing or delaying ObamaCare’s employer mandate to offer health insurance, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said Tuesday.

Brady told reporters that he has discussed the idea with Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, as well as other members of Ways and Means.

“We’ve discussed that with him as well as committee members, so yeah, there is that discussion, and I’d like to see us make progress there,” Brady said.

He said he hopes relief from the mandate, which imposes a financial penalty on businesses with 50 or more employees that do not offer health coverage for their workers, would be retroactive to prevent employers for being penalized for not offering coverage back to 2015, when the mandate took effect.

“We want to make sure our businesses aren’t caught up in some sort of fines or punitive measures for the past three years as well …,” Brady said. “I think the goal would be to delay or repeal it in total but retroactive as well.”

The employer mandate is generally not seen as a core part of ObamaCare. It has drawn opposition from business groups who say it is a burden.

With more sweeping ObamaCare repeal efforts appearing unrealistic at the moment, Republicans are shifting to chipping away at certain parts of the law. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) earlier Tuesday called for an “incremental” approach to health-care reform.

The individual mandate requiring consumers have health-care coverage or pay a penalty, which is seen as a more central part of the law, was already repealed in the GOP tax-reform bill in December.

 

Trump Administration Targets Women in its War on Health Care

After yesterday’s revelations about the Trump Administration’s continuing attacks on women’s health care, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“The past 24 hours confirm that the Trump Administration’s war on health care is specifically targeting American women. Not only did President Trump release a budget that would defund Planned Parenthood and slash Medicaid, denying millions of women access to basic health care, but we also learned that Trump’s HHS last month instructed a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group to write an official government letter that provides a roadmap for state Medicaid programs to restrict women’s access to the health care provider of their choice. These blatant attacks on women’s health care remain front and center in the Trump Administration’s ongoing war against the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, and the entire American health care system.”

POLITICO, 2/12/18: “A conservative legal organization worked with the Trump administration to make it easier for states to defund Planned Parenthood.”

CNN, 2/12/18: “The Trump administration relied on a right-wing anti-abortion rights group to draft the letter it sent to states reversing Obama-era guidance that it’s against the law to terminate Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider … the Alliance Defending Freedom calls itself a conservative Christian nonprofit organization … but the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled it a hate group for its attacks on LGBT rights.”