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Trump Administration Continues War on Health Care with FY19 Budget Blueprint

After President Trump released a budget blueprint that would continue his Administration’s assault on the American health care system, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“With today’s budget, the Trump Administration is doubling down on its relentless war on  American health care. By asking Congress to revive the deeply unpopular Graham-Cassidy repeal bill that ended protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, gutted Medicaid, ripped away coverage from millions, and raised costs for millions more, while also proposing drastic cuts to Medicare, Trump has chosen to ignore the American public’s overwhelming preference for a bipartisan path forward on health care. Instead, the Trump Administration continues its assault on the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid.

“As a deadly flu epidemic continues to sicken people across America, President Trump’s budget today shows that he remains worse than indifferent to our health care. Enough is enough: the sabotage, cuts, and repeal attempts must stop. Congress should declare this budget’s anti-health care proposals dead on arrival.”

BACKGROUND

Today’s Trump budget proposes a $1.7 trillion cut to Medicare and other mandatory programs and pushes Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act and gut Medicaid by passing legislation modeled on Graham-Cassidy.

PHOTOS: Health Care Protests at GOP Retreat in West Virginia

As Congressional Republicans retreated to West Virginia to discuss their plans for 2018, they were greeted by protesters who are furious about the GOP’s ongoing war on health care. Hundreds of protesters greeted Vice President Pence at the airport, lined up along the President’s motorcade route, and made sure every Member of Congress in attendance knew just how furious voters are about their party’s health care sabotage:

[Beckley Register-Herald]

The protesters made clear just how devastating the GOP’s health care attacks would be to West Virginia:

“An issue on the minds — and signs — of many of the protesters was health care. Hanno Kirk, 78, of Lewisburg, said his main concern as a health care provider is the 230,000 people in West Virginia who are in danger of losing health insurance if the GOP succeeds in dismantling the Affordable Care Act. ‘It’s totally misguided to attempt to do away with the ACA simply because it’s called ‘Obamacare,’ Kirk said, noting he used to be a ‘liberal Republican in Washington, D.C., back when there was such a thing as a liberal Republican.’ Stephen Josephine Fritsch of Harrisburg, Pa., the daughter of a combat veteran, said it appears the values her father fought for are slipping away. ‘This is America,’ she said. ‘It should be we the America, not me the America.’ Fritsch expressed concern about the state of U.S. health care under GOP leadership.”

“‘Well, we have a lot of issues in West Virginia,’ said psychotherapist and protester Hanno Kirk. ‘As a healthcare provider, I am acutely aware how many of my patients are reliant on Medicaid and Medicare and CHIPS. And if those two are eliminated, as there is a threat to that, we would have a huge number of uninsured people.’” [WVVA, 1/31]

[Beckley Register-Herald]

Protesters gathered at Senator Moore-Capito’s office ahead of Congressional Republicans’ arrival:

Protesters are hitting the streets in Charleston, a day ahead of the GOP retreat at The Greenbrier, to voice their concerns about cuts to health care and Medicaid. A rally Wednesday evening included people from all over the eastern U.S. gathering in Charleston, including one woman from as far away as Vermont. It is a test run for a bigger demonstration on Thursday in Greenbrier County. By the end of the night Wednesday, the group is expecting about 500 advocates in town — standing together against Medicaid and health care cuts. [WSAZ, 1/31]

They met Vice President Pence at the Charleston airport:

“‘We’re just ready for that change,’ Debbie Naeter says. She’s right outside the Greenbrier Valley Airport gates with protestors prepared to welcome Vice President Pence with their concerns. ‘It’s health care, and fracking, and equality, and being nice again,’ she says.” [WDBJ, 1/31]

Engaged activists traveled from all over the country to make their voices heard:

“Protesters came from all over the United States. WDBJ7’s Sara Machi spoke with protesters from West Virginia, New York City, Charlotte, and Arkansas. Many protesters present Thursday said they have decided to protest because of issues important to them. These issues include immigration, healthcare, the recent tax bill, clean water, and other issues.” [WDBJ, 2/1]

[Beckley Register-Herald]

As Paul Ryan raised the specter of “entitlement reform” inside, protesters at the gates of the five-star resort raised awareness about the GOP’s proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid:

“President Donald Trump’s address to Republican congressmen at The Greenbrier resort in southern West Virginia has drawn several hundred protesters with signs and chants criticizing him and calling for living wages, protecting Medicaid and Medicare, defending immigrants and decrying hate speech.” [AP, 2/1]

[Twitter]

The bottom line from protesters: Enough is enough. It’s time to stop the Republican war on our care.

“While President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence plan to attend a GOP congressional retreat in West Virginia, some health care advocates plan to attend rallies to protest Medicaid and health care cuts… Organizers said in a news release that West Virginia health care advocates would join more than 500 people gathering to protest and send a message ‘that any cuts to health care — the issue expected to top the GOP’s agenda — will be met with a fierce nationwide fight.’” [WCHS, 1/31]

[Beckley Register-Herald]

Lest anyone be confused, they made clear what the protests were really about:

“Sammi Brown, the federal campaigns director for Our Children, Our Future, said this started after activists in Greenbrier County reached out to individual groups, and word of the action reached organizations in West Virginia and other states shortly afterward. ‘It is folks all along the East Coast that are standing in solidarity with West Virginia. We are expecting upwards of 600 people tomorrow to march with us,’ she said. Brown said the protest was not about Trump but rather the agenda of what she called ‘attacking health care.’” [West Virginia Metro News, 1/31]

And Vice President Pence found one special health care protester – West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. After Pence chided him for not voting for the GOP tax scam, which kicked millions of Americans off of their coverage, Manchin hit back:

[Twitter]

As President Trump, Vice President Pence and GOP Members of Congress were shown upon their arrival in West Virginia, Americans, from local organizers to United States senators are furious about their repeal and sabotage memo. They’re furious over their weakening of the Affordable Care Act; they’re furious over their attempts to gut Medicare and Medicaid; and they’re furious over their unnecessary attacks on America’s health care system. And if they don’t stop, it’s only going to get worse.

Enough is enough – it’s time for the GOP to end their war on health care.

Seniors’ Medical Expenses Rising as GOP War on Health Care Spikes Costs Nationwide

Meta Capitol

“Lost in the State of the Union coverage was yesterday’s new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation highlighting massive increases in out-of-pocket medical costs for seniors – and they’re projected to keep skyrocketing. While President Trump has claimed he wants to lower health care costs, including the prescription drug costs that drive seniors’ medical expenses, the reality is the opposite. President Trump has consistently supported proposals that make health care more expensive, from repeal legislation which would have allowed insurance companies to charge people over 50 an ‘age tax’ with rates five times higher to the tax scam that’s set to raise premiums double digits, and he recently put a Big Pharma executive in charge of HHS. The first step toward containing costs for American seniors and families is for Trump and the GOP to end their war on Americans’ health care and stop paying allegiance to Big Pharma.”

Seniors’ out-of-pocket medical costs are rising

Axios // Sam Baker // January 30, 2018

On average, Medicare beneficiaries are spending about 41% of their Social Security income on out-of-pocket health care costs, according to new research from the Kaiser Family Foundation. And half of all Medicare beneficiaries spent roughly 14% of their total income — not just from Social Security — on health care.

Why it matters: Health care is eating up more and more of everyone’s income — but that’s an especially difficult burden for seniors, who often live on fixed incomes.

The gritty details, per KFF:

  • These percentages are expected to grow.
  • Those expenses include premiums, cost-sharing, and spending on services Medicare doesn’t cover, such as long-term care.
  • Not surprisingly, older, sicker and poorer seniors were all more likely to spend a greater share of their income on health care expenses.

Don’t forget: This is also a good reminder that while “Medicare for all” polls well as a synonym for single payer, actual Medicare for all would still leave plenty of room for out-of-pocket spending and even privately administered benefits.

Go deeper: Corporate profits have dramatically outpaced wages and health benefits since the turn of the century.

2018 Is the Year of Health Care

To: Interested Parties

From: Brad Woodhouse, Campaign Director, Protect Our Care

Subject: 2018 Is the Year of Health Care

Date: January 2, 2018

In 2017, the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress waged a war on our health care – from ACA repeal to Medicaid cuts to health care sabotage. Under their planned agenda, costs would rise, coverage would fall and millions of Americans would lose protections against abuses from insurance companies.

The story of 2018 is a simple one: it will be the year the politics of health care will haunt Republicans at the polls. Poll after poll shows that health care is the number one issue on voters’ minds and that they strongly oppose the GOP war on health care. Relatedly, the Affordable Care Act is more popular than ever, and more than 8 million people have already signed up for coverage in open enrollment.

Now, some Republicans want to keep their war on health care going.  They do so at their political peril.

The American people see health care as their top issue.

  • 48 percent in a recent Associated Press-NORC poll rated health care as their top concern for 2018, a number double-digits ahead of the second issue, taxes.
  • Health care topped people’s concerns in a POLITICO/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll. The number one issue people wanted Congress and President Trump to address was to renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  • Health care was the most important issue to people in a recent Economist/YouGov poll (18 percent), followed by Social Security (17 percent).

The American people reject President Trump and Congressional Republicans’ approach to health care.

  • The recent AP/NORC poll had President Trump’s approval/disapproval on health care at 30/70. More voters disapprove of his performance on health than any other issue.
  • According to the November 2017 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, “The majority of the public (60 percent) – including majorities of Democrats (89 percent) and independents (57 percent) – do not trust President Trump to do what’s best when it comes to health care in this country.”
  • FOX News polling showed only 33% of voters approve of President Trump’s work on health care while 60% disapprove.  

And it will cost Republicans politically if they continue their war on health care, like it did last November.

  • The latest Quinnipiac poll showed 41% of voters as being less likely to vote for a Senator or Member of Congress who backed the GOP’s health care plan with only 19% more likely to support them.
  • Health care was the most important issue for people who voted in the Virginia gubernatorial race in November, more than double any other issue, and Ralph Northam beat Ed Gillespie by 54 points, 77-23, among these voters.
  • In Maine, voters backed a referendum to endorse a key element of the Affordable Care Act by an 18-point margin (59-41), the first time the ACA had ever been on the ballot.

The Affordable Care Act is more popular than it has ever been.

  • Pew Research Center: “Today, more Americans say the 2010 health care overhaul has had a mostly positive than mostly negative effect on the country (44% versus 35%), while 14% say it has not had much effect. Overall support for the health care law also has grown since last year. Currently, 56% of the public approves of the law while 38% disapproves, according to a new national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Nov. 29-Dec. 4.”
  • A Public Policy Poll for Protect Our Care found that 57% say they approve of the Affordable Care Act to just 36% who say they disapprove – a 21 point gap. This is up 5 points from a September poll done for Save My Care, where approval was 54/38.

She Did What?! Susan Collins’ Position on the Tax Bill Hurts the Middle Class, the Environment and Health Care, Undermining Her Claims to Leadership on All of These Issues

For years, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) has claimed to support the middle-class, favored the expansion of health care coverage and pledged to protect the environment. The GOP tax scam hammers the middle class, guts health care coverage and will irreparably hurt the environment. Who is harmed under this bill, and why does Sen. Collins continue to support it?

Mainers’ Health Because Premiums Will Rise and Medicare Cuts Are on the Horizon. Analysis from the Center for American Progress found that Mainers will see their premiums increase $2,350 under this tax bill. 50,000 Mainers will lose their insurance, and Medicare funding will see a $120 million cut in 2018. The immediate cuts are not the only cuts facing health care, either. In a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), CBO Director Keith Hall made clear what Republicans have long said won’t be the case: Medicaid cuts are coming, to the tune of $18 billion. And Republicans, from Paul Ryan to Marco Rubio, are now admitting these cuts will be the next step. Sen. Collins previously highlighted Medicaid cuts as one of her primary concerns with GOP health care legislation and told CBS, “I don’t want seniors to have the anxiety of wondering whether the tax bill somehow is going to trigger a cut in Medicare.”

Middle Class Mainers’ Pocketbooks. The tax scam benefits the wealthiest earners at the expense of the middle class Per JCT analysis, “high-income households would get the largest tax cuts as a share of after-tax income, on average, while households with incomes below $30,000 would on average face a tax increase.” Sen. Collins previously criticized tax cuts for the highest earners.

Saddling Future Generations with More Debt. The tax bill would raise the budget deficit by nearly $1.5 trillion according to every independent analysis which has been conducted. The Joint Committee on Taxation found that the bill would cost $1.63 trillion, the Penn Wharton Budget Model found that it would cost $1.64 trillion and the Tax Foundation found that it would cost $1.78 trillion. Sen. Collins previously said she didn’t want the tax bill to “blow a hole in the deficit.”

Allowing More Drilling in Alaska. Buried in the bill is a provision allowing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). ANWR drilling is a clear giveaway to the country’s largest oil companies at the expense of the planet, and is unpopular on both sides of the aisle. Twelve GOP Members of Congress recently urged its removal from the bill, and poll found wide opposition across eight key GOP Congressional districts. Sen. Collins previously was the only Republican to vote against ANWR drilling in a budget proposal.

Sen. Collins, it’s clear that the vast majority of this country will be harmed under this bill. It’s massively unpopular, with the opposition nearly doubling those who favor it. And Mainers are already furious about it. It’s not too late to change your vote – come out against this appalling piece of legislation, and instead return to the principles you’ve claimed to want to advance.

Protect Our Care Statement In Response to GOP Finally Releasing Tax Scam Text

In response to the text of the GOP tax scam – which kicks 13 million people off of their insurance, raises premiums double digits for millions more and cuts Medicare by $25 billion – finally being released, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“This GOP tax plan was negotiated behind closed doors, and now they’re releasing it as a Friday night news dump on the weekend before the vote because they want this hidden from the American people and only shared with their donors,” said Woodhouse. “They know the American people reject giving tax breaks to billionaires and big corporations at the expense of health care for middle class families. The more people learn about this plan, the worse things will get for its supporters. Thirteen million Americans will lose their insurance, tens of millions more will see their premiums increase by double digits and Medicare will be slashed by $25 billion, all to give a tax break to the wealthiest and corporations..

“After being written in a back room, without hearings, expert input or a bipartisan debate, and passing the Senate in the middle of the night, this bill went through conference in complete secrecy, with Democratic amendments refused and Democratic Members being given just two hours to examine it. And of course, this comes just days after a special election in Alabama where the Trump/GOP agenda was soundly rejected and just a month after GOP electoral losses across the country where healthcare played the dominant role.

“This bill is a mockery of the democratic process  This bill gives the top 0.1% a $200,000 tax break while raising health care premiums for people by 10%. That is indefensible. Any GOP Member of Congress who cares about their constituents’ health care should vote against it.”

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

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

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

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

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

The GOP Tax Plan is a Triple Punch to Health Care For the Middle Class

Republicans are desperate to pass their tax plan before anyone notices what’s in it. Why?

Three key parts — repealing the mandate, forcing Medicare cuts and cutting deductions for medical expense — are just the latest attempt by Republicans in Washington to attack the health care that middle class families depend on.

The three-pronged assault includes:

Premiums Go Up

Reuters: “Repeal of individual mandate would increase uninsured, premiums: CBO”

Medicare Goes Down

The Hill: “GOP tax bill could spur $25 billion in Medicare cuts: CBO”

Medical Expense Deduction Goes Away

Los Angeles Times: “GOP tax plan would scrap deduction for big medical expenses”

Protect Our Care Blasts the Trump Administration’s Medicaid Changes as Offensive, Harmful and…

CMS’s New Criteria for State Changes to Medicaid will Deny Coverage to Hundreds of Thousands of Americans

Washington, D.C. — The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today new criteria for considering requests from states to make changes to their Medicaid programs, dropping the previous requirement that such changes must “increase and strengthen” health coverage for low-income Americans and instead encouraging proposals that place new hurdles to coverage like drug tests and work requirements. CMS Administrator Seema Verma, whose agency’s mission is to help Americans access health coverage through Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP and the Health Insurance Marketplace, said in a statement that the goal of covering more people is a “hollow victory of numbers.” This, despite the fact that on its own website homepage CMS promotes that it’s efforts cover 100 million Americans.

Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse blasted the changes and Verma’s offensive comparison of people gaining access to health care with “hollow” “numbers.”

“The Trump Administration has once again shown that it will stop at nothing in its zeal to sabotage American health care even if it means harming hundreds of thousands of people and resorting to offensive, right-wing stereotypes about low-income Americans in the process,” said Woodhouse. “CMS is supposed to help people get health coverage, but today it offensively called coverage goals a ‘hollow victory of numbers,’ an Orwellian statement from the agency charged with administering Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP and the Health Insurance Marketplace. These changes are shameful, harmful and wreak of the kind of right-wing rhetoric and policy choices that for decades have demeaned and stereotyped people who need health care but can’t afford it. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose coverage as a result of these changes — not because they don’t need, deserve or qualify, but because Donald Trump and Republicans want a talking point for their right-wing base. They should be ashamed.”

These changes are the opposite of the message Americans sent to Congress in defeating one effort after another to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which was to improve and expand coverage rather than repeal it. Republican efforts to slash Medicaid and end Medicaid expansion were especially unpopular as countless Americans shared stories of how important access to Medicaid was to them and their families.