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Obamacare Archives — Protect Our Care

Trump Regime Launches Cover Up Of Its Health Care Sabotage


Washington DC — As reported by the Associated Press, the Trump White House is claiming it has done nothing to “sabotage” the Affordable Care Act. In a report expected to be released today, the Council of Economic Advisers is trying to claim that the administration’s relentless war on Americans’ health care does not constitute “sabotage.” This is blatantly false. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement:

“We’re just over a month into 2019 but this whopper is already in the running for the lie of the year. The Trump administration’s relentless sabotage of our health care system is well-documented. In November, voters took to the polls and rejected the Republican war on health care, and the fact that this administration is launching a massive cover-up of their sabotage means that they’re already bracing themselves against the wrath of voters in 2020.”

Don’t believe us? Take a look at our sabotage tracker:

February 2019

  • Trump predicts the Affordable Care Act will be “terminated” through the Texas lawsuit seeking to overturn the law.
  • In an effort to restrict access to information about women’s reproductive health, the Trump administration removes web pages associated with the ACA and its contraceptive coverage from HHS’s Office of Population Affairs website.

January 2019

  • Thanks to GOP sabotage, the uninsured rate surges to the its highest level since 2014. Roughly seven million fewer people are estimated to have health care now than did two years ago.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposes changes to the ACA’s benefit and payment parameters, reducing subsidies available to those who purchase health care through the exchange, increasing premiums, and raising the out-of-pocket maximum for people with employer-sponsored health care.
  • In a win for big Pharma, the Trump administration proposes changes to the rebate system that would raise premiums, benefit pharmaceutical companies, and contain no mandate to lower list prices of drugs.

December 2018

  • Hand-picked Federal Judge Reed O’Connor rules in favor of twenty conservative states to overturn the Affordable Care Act, jeopardizing coverage for 17 million people and ripping away the ACA’s vital consumer protections such as protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Under the Trump administration’s relentless sabotage, the uninsured rate increases for the first time since 2010. As the Kaiser Family Foundation finds, “In 2017, the uninsured rate reversed course and, for the first time since the passage of the ACA, rose significantly to 10.2% [from 10%].”

November 2018

  • Trump administration issues new guidance urging states to “tear down basic pillars of the Affordable Care Act, demolishing a basic rule” that federal subsidies can only be used to purchase ACA-compliant plans. Experts warn against this move, saying it will push affordable, comprehensive care further out of reach for individuals with pre-existing conditions.
  • Under the Trump administration, the number of uninsured children grows for the first time in nearly a decade. After a decade of steady decreases in the number of uninsured children, in 2017 the number of uninsured children increased from 3.6 million to 3.9 million.

October 2018

  • Republicans appoint Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh is known to be hostile to the Affordable Care Act.
  • The Trump administration issues guidance that allows federal subsidies to be used to purchase junk plans that can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

September 2018

  • The Trump administration’s Department of Justice joins twenty conservative states in court in opening arguments to argue that the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be overturned.
  • Nearly 4,600 Arkansans are unable to meet Arkansas’ reporting requirements for the state’s Medicaid work requirements and lose Medicaid coverage.

August 2018

  • Trump administration finalizes rule for bare-bones short-term plans that are exempt from key consumer protections, such as the requirement that insurance covers prescription drugs, maternity care, and hospitalization.

July 2018

  • CMS halts risk adjustment payments, that enable insurance companies to cover everyone, regardless of whether they are healthy or sick.
  • Trump Administration slashes funding for non-profit health navigator groups, that help people shop for coverage, from $36 million to $10 million. CMS encourages groups to use the remaining funds to push people to sign up for junk plans that skirt important consumer protections.
  • President Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh has previously forced a young woman to continue a pregnancy against her will and has criticized Justice Roberts for upholding the Affordable Care Act’s constitutionality.

June 2018

  • Department of Justice takes to the courts to argue that insurance companies should be able to discriminate against as many as 130 million Americans with a pre-existing condition.
  • Republican coalition, the Health Policy Consensus Group, released their latest proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions, let insurance companies charge older people an age tax, and deny key coverage for basic services like maternity care.
  • Trump Administration finalizes proposal to expand access to association health plans that skirt key consumer protections.

May 2018

  • President Trump boasts about health care sabotage: “We will have gotten rid of a majority of Obamacare.”
  • Trump Administration enlists help of former drug lobbyist in writing its drug plan.
  • Congressional Republicans try to use annual farm bill to authorize $65 million in taxpayer funding to set up association health plans, which can  exclude prescription drug coverage, mental health care, and maternity care.

April 2018

  • House Republicans vote on a balanced budget amendment that would cut Medicaid by $700 billion over ten years, $114 billion in a single year alone.
  • Trump Administration limits access to assistance for consumers who want to enroll in marketplace coverage. This change removes the requirement that every area has at least two “navigator” groups to provide consumer assistance and that one be local. Now, just one group could cover entire states or groups of states.

March 2018

  • Republicans sabotage efforts to pass a bipartisan bill that would have stabilized Affordable Care Act marketplaces by insisting the bill restrict access to abortion.

February 2018

  • The Trump Administration announces that it will expand access to short-term health plans that do not have to comply with key consumer protection provisions required by the Affordable Care Act.
  • Urban Institute calculates that repeal of the individual mandate and expansion of short term plans will increase individual market premiums by an average 18.2 percent in 2019.
  • Trump Administration releases budget that calls for the Affordable Care Act to be replaced by Graham-Cassidy, in a move that experts predict would reduce health coverage for 32 million Americans.

January 2018

  • The Trump Administration announces that it will support states that impose onerous work requirements on Americans covered by Medicaid, and approves Kentucky’s worst-in-the-nation waiver the next day.
  • The Trump Administration announces a move to allow providers to discriminate by allowing them to deny patient care for almost any reason.
  • The Trump Administration makes plans to announce even more exemptions from the requirement people have health coverage before this provision is repealed altogether.

December 2017

  • The Trump Administration proposes a rule to expand association health plans, which would gut consumer protections, raise costs for people with pre-existing conditions and further destabilize the insurance markets.
  • Congressional Republicans pass their tax scam, which doubles 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.

November 2017

  • Republicans refuse to move forward on the bipartisan Alexander-Murray bill to address the CSR crisis even though it had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

October 2017

  • The Trump Administration takes direct aim at birth control by rolling back a rule that guaranteed women access to contraception. (A court has since questioned the legality of the action.)
  • President Trump signs an Executive Order to roll back key consumer protections that will result in garbage insurance, raise premiums, reduce coverage and again expose millions of Americans to discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.
  • The Trump Administration dramatically cuts in-person assistance to help people sign up for 2018 health coverage.
  • After threatening for months to stop funding cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs) that help lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, the Trump Administration stops the payments altogether. The CBO finds that failing to make these payments will increase premiums by 20% and add nearly $200 billion to the debt.

September 2017

  • The Administration orders the Department of Health and Human Services’ regional directors to stop participating in Open Enrollment events. Mississippi Health Advocacy Program Executive Director Roy Mitchell says, “I didn’t call it sabotage…But that’s what it is.”

August 2017

  • The Administration cuts the outreach advertising budget for Open Enrollment by 90 percent, from $100 million to just $10 million – which resulted in as many as 1.1 million fewer people getting covered.

July 2017

  • The Trump Administration uses funding intended to support health insurance enrollment to launch a multimedia propaganda campaign against the Affordable Care Act.
  • President Trump, again, threatens to end cost-sharing reduction payments.

June 2017

  • Senate Republicans embark on a monthslong failed attempt to pass BCRA, Skinny Repeal and Graham-Cassidy, all repeal bills that would have caused millions of Americans to lose their health coverage and raised premiums by double digits for millions more. They would have ended Medicaid as we know it, putting the care of children, seniors and people with disabilities at risk.

May 2017

  • House Republicans vote for and pass a health care repeal bill that would cause 23 million people to lose coverage and gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions. It would have imposed an age tax and allowed insurers to charge people over 50 five times more for coverage and ended Medicaid as we know it, putting the care of seniors, children and people with disabilities in jeopardy.

April 2017

  • The Trump Administration cuts the number of days people could sign up for coverage during open enrollment by half, from 90 days to 45 days.
  • In an effort to convince Democrats to negotiate a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, President Trump threatens to cut off cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs) that help low-income marketplace customers pay for out-of-pocket costs.

March 2017

  • The Trump Administration sends a letter to governors encouraging them to submit proposals which include provisions such as work requirements that make it harder for Medicaid beneficiaries to get affordable care and increase the number of people who are uninsured.

February 2017

  • The Trump Administration proposes a rule to weaken Marketplace coverage and raise premiums for millions of middle-class families.

January 2017

  • On his first day in office, President Trump signs an Executive Order directing the administration to identify every way it can unravel the Affordable Care Act.
  • Also on January 20th, the Department of Health and Human Services begins to remove information on how to sign up for the Affordable Care Act.
  • The Trump Administration pulls funding for outreach and advertising for the final days of 2017 enrollment. This move is estimated to have reduced enrollment by nearly 500,000.

Reminder: Those Who Know Health Care The Best Say The Texas Lawsuit Is the Worst

Tomorrow, oral argument will be held in the case Texas, et al. vs. United States, et al., which not only threatens protections for people with pre-existing conditions, but a whole host of provisions of tens of millions of Americans rely upon for their care and coverage. If the court rules in favor of the Republican states and the Trump administration, critical Affordable Care Act protections would vanish overnight, unleashing chaos in our entire health care system. Just see what the experts say.

Patient groups, physicians, and hospitals emphasize how much the lawsuit could threaten care for people across the country:

  • American Public Health Association’s Executive Director, Dr. Georges Benjamin, Says the Lawsuit Could Be The Most Dangerous Effort To Destabilize The American Healthcare System Yet. “Overturning the ACA will result in a catastrophic loss of coverage for millions of Americans. According to a new analysis by the Urban Institute, if the ACA is invalidated, more than 17 million people would lose coverage in 2019. That would be a 50% increase in the number of uninsured in just one year, including 12 million people who receive insurance through the marketplaces created by the ACA and 2.3 million young adults who gained coverage through its expansion of dependent care. Striking down the ACA will jeopardize the healthcare of those who need it most. Nearly 12 million low-income Americans who were enrolled in Medicaid through the ACA would likely lose coverage…This lawsuit could be the most dangerous effort to destabilize the American healthcare system yet. That’s why the American Public Health Association has submitted friend-of-the-court briefs opposing this suit, along with many other health organizations, insurers, economists and members of the business community.” [Los Angeles Times, Benjamin, 9/4/18]          

 

  • American Cancer Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and National Multiple Sclerosis Society: “Striking Down These Provisions Would Be Catastrophic And Have Dire Consequences For Many Patients With Serious Illnesses.” Invalidating the ACA in whole or in part “would be devastating for the millions of Americans who suffer from serious illness or have preexisting conditions and rely on those protections under current law to obtain life-saving health care. If either the plaintiffs’ or the administration’s position were adopted by the court, people with serious illness are likely to be denied coverage due to their preexisting conditions or charged such high premiums because of their health status that they will be unable to afford any coverage that may be offered. Without access to comprehensive coverage, patients will be forced to delay, skip, or forego care. Striking down these provisions would be catastrophic and have dire consequences for many patients with serious illnesses.” [American Cancer Society et. al, 6/14/18

 

  • American Medical Association, The American Academy of Family Physicians, The American College of Physicians, The American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: “​Invalidating The Guaranteed-issue And Community Rating Provisions—or The ​Entire A​CA—Would Have A Devastating Impact On Doctors, Patients, And The American Health Care System As A Whole.” “Congress declined to do what the Plaintiffs ask this Court to do for a reason: the consequences of repealing the ACA would be staggering…Plaintiffs’ proposed remedies . . . would strip health care from tens of millions of Americans who depend on the ACA; produce skyrocketing insurance costs; and sow chaos in the nation’s health care system​…The ACA’s ‘nationwide protections for Americans with pre-existing health conditions’ has played a ‘key role’ in allowing 3.6 million people to obtain affordable health insurance. Severing those vital insurance reforms would leave millions without much-needed insurance.” [AMA et. al, 6/14/18]

 

  • American Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals, The Catholic Health Association of the United States, and Association of American Medical Colleges: “A judicial repeal would have severe consequences for America’s hospitals, which would be forced to shoulder the greater uncompensated-care burden that the ACA’s repeal would create.” The relief sought by Texas and its allies “would have devastating consequences, kicking millions of Americans off of coverage and inflicting on them all the harms that come with being uninsured. These harms would fall on the low-income families least able to cope with them. ​And a judicial repeal would have severe consequences for America’s hospitals, which would be forced to shoulder the greater uncompensated-care burden that the ACA’s repeal would create.” [American Hospital Association et. al, 6/14/18]

 

  • Public Health Scholars and the American Public Health Association: “The Foreseeable Public Health Consequences Of The Injunction Are Nothing Short of Catastrophic.” “Without the ACA, the health of millions of Americans would be harmed. Consider the grim analyses of proposed legislation partially repealing the ACA: In 2017, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”) assessed the impact of a bill partially repealing the ACA and found (among other things) that it would, in “the first new plan year following enactment of the bill” alone, increase the number of uninsured Americans by 18 million. That number would grow to 27 million after the “year following the elimination of the Medicaid expansion,” and then to 32 million by 2026. Still more is at stake here: Unlike the injunctive relief plaintiffs seek, the bill analyzed by CBO would have staggered its partial repeal of the ACA to avoid catastrophic results. Here, plaintiffs ask the Court to eliminate, as preliminary injunctive relief, a complex statute in its eighth year of implementation—a statute whose repeal through democratic means has been attempted innumerable times but has never succeeded.” [Public Health Scholars et. al, 6/14/18]

 

  • AARP: Before ACA’s Protections, Discrimination Against Those With Pre-Existing Conditions, Age Rating, And Annual And Lifetime Caps Made Accessing Health Care Out Of Reach For Older Adults. “Uninsured pre-Medicare adults faced nearly insurmountable challenges to securing insurance because they were denied coverage based on preexisting conditions or offered costly policies that excluded coverage for needed care. Even without preexisting conditions, insurance premiums for older adults were as much as 11 times greater than their younger counterparts solely based on their age. Even a healthy person who was age 50 to 64 with no preexisting conditions faced markedly higher insurance premium rates than a younger person. Age rating put the cost of insurance out of reach for many pre-Medicare adults. Annual and lifetime caps—which were easily exceeded by treatment for a single illness such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes—meant that many older adults either went without treatment until they became eligible for Medicare or incurred financially ruinous medical debt.” [AARP, 6/14/18]

Health insurance companies warn that the lawsuit could lead to mass coverage losses:

  • America’s Health Insurance Plans: “Abruptly threatening or even cutting off billions of federal dollars that allow individuals to purchase insurance and that fund benefits offered through Medicaid or Medicare would have devastating effects.”“The healthcare system, while constantly evolving, cannot pivot to a new (or, worse yet, non-existent) set of rules without consequences. Abruptly threatening or even cutting off billions of federal dollars that allow individuals to purchase insurance and that fund benefits offered through Medicaid or Medicare would have devastating effects.​ Enjoining enforcement of federal laws like the federally-facilitated marketplaces and the products sold on them would be similarly disruptive.” [AHIP, 6/14/18]

 

  • The Ability Of Millions Of Low-Income, Medically Vulnerable People To Access Necessary Treatments Would Be Cast Into Doubt. “The Medicaid program would likewise experience significant disruptions​. Stopping the funding for individuals made newly eligible for Medicaid under the ACA would harm the 34 states that have chosen to expand their Medicaid programs and potentially disrupt healthcare coverage for the 12 million people added as a result of that expansion​…The coverage of millions of low-income and medically-vulnerable patients—and their ability to receive necessary treatments and prescription drugs—would be cast into doubt. At the same time, state Medicaid programs would see drug costs increase considerably for all enrollees (including children, disabled, and elderly) due to the loss of the ACA’s enhanced prescription drug rebates​.” [AHIP, 6/14/18]

Small businesses, economists, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) demonstrate how DOJ’s lawsuit would jeopardize Americans’ health while harming the economy:

  • Small Business Majority Foundation: “Before the enactment of ACA, this linkage pressured individuals to seek out and then stay put in jobs that provided affordable health insurance—a phenomenon known as ‘job lock’—because people clung to jobs with affordable health coverage even when they might have otherwise chosen to start businesses or pursue more attractive job opportunities with growing small businesses.” Small business owners, their employees, and self-employed individuals have benefited significantly from the many different reforms enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, especially the creation of the individual marketplaces with tax credits, the optional expansion of Medicaid, and small group market reforms. Millions more working Americans, who are self employed or employees of the Nation’s small businesses, now have health insurance that they would not have had without the Act. The harm they will suffer if the Act is enjoined is just one of many reasons why the public interest is not served by Plaintiffs’ sweeping requested injunction.” [Small Business Majority Foundation, 6/14/18]

 

  • Service Employees International Union (SEIU): “A Decision Striking Down The ACA Not Only Would Strip Health Coverage And Protections From Nearly 30 Million People And Remove Quality Care Incentives For Providers But Also Would Have Catastrophic Economic Consequences.” “Loss of the ACA would cause an enormous surge in the number of uninsured Americans, which would in turn increase the burden of uncompensated medical care costs borne by hospitals and other medical care providers by an estimated $1 trillion between 2019 and 2028. The massive reduction in federal funding would lead to the loss of up to 2.6 million jobs. And because the health care sector accounts for such a large percentage of the overall U.S. economy, eliminating the ACA would result in a $2.6 trillion reduction in total business activity between 2019 and 2023.” [SEIU, 6/14/18]

 

  • Linda Blumberg, Fellow At Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center, And Sherry Glied, Dean Of Public Service At New York University: Lawsuit Would “Damage A Broad Swath Of The American Economy.” “We are economists, so we cannot address the legal questions. But we know what would happen if the court eliminated the ACA’s protections for people with health problems or invalidated the law entirely. The Urban Institute estimates that 17.1 million more people would become uninsured in 2019, a 50 percent increase in the number of uninsured. A decision for the plaintiffs would go beyond coverage losses. The ACA is complex and touches virtually every area of health care. Consumers and providers have relied on it for over eight years. Invalidating the law would eliminate extensions of coverage for those with employer insurance or Medicare, including preventive services with no cost-sharing, dependent coverage for young adults, and closure of the Medicare ‘donut hole’ that lowers prescriptions costs for seniors. It would throw the Medicare payment system into chaos and would require states to change the systems they built for determining Medicaid eligibility. It would damage a broad swath of the American economy.” [Austin American-Statesman, 8/30/18]

Law professors and the American Medical Association question the legality of the Justice Department’s argument:

  • Josh Blackman, Professor At South Texas College Of Law: Writing Off This Case Would Be A Mistake. “Writing off this case would be a mistake, warned Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law and frequent commentator on the healthcare law. ‘If the history of the Affordable Care Act teaches us anything, it is that we should not dismiss legal challenges too quickly,’ he said.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/4/18]
  • Law Professors From Both Sides Of The Aisle, Including Jonathan Adler, Ilya Somin, Nicholas Bagley, Abbe Gluck, and Kevin Walsh, Note That Despite Their Different Policy Perspectives, They Agree That DOJ’s Arguments About Severability Are Inconsistent With The Law. “[A] court’s substitution of its own judgment for that of Congress would be an unlawful usurpation of congressional power and violate basic black-letter principles of severability. Yet that is what the plaintiff States and the United States invite this Court to do.​..This time-shifting of congressional intent misapplies severability doctrine. By expressly amending the statute in 2017 and setting the penalty at zero while not making other changes, Congress eliminated any need to examine earlier legislative findings or to theorize about what Congress would have wanted. Congress told us what it wanted through its 2017 legislative actions.” [Jonathan Adler et. al, 6/14/18]

 

  • American Medical Association, The American Academy of Family Physicians, The American College of Physicians, The American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: DOJ Seeks To “Change The Federal Government’s Health Care Policy Through The Courts.” “The plaintiffs do not seek redress for any real, concrete injury because they have suffered none. They simply seek to change the federal government’s health care policy through the courts, rather than through the legislature.” [AMA et. al, 6/14/18]

Short-Term Junk Plans

SHORT-TERM JUNK PLANS OFFER INADEQUATE MEDICAL COVERAGE AND CIRCUMVENT FUNDAMENTAL CONSUMER PROTECTIONS

Short-Term Plans May Exclude Coverage For Pre-Existing Conditions. “Policyholders who get sick may be investigated by the insurer to determine whether the newly-diagnosed condition could be considered pre-existing and so excluded from coverage.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/9/18]

  • As Many As 130 Million Nonelderly Americans Have A Pre-Existing Condition. [Center for American Progress, 4/5/17]
  • 1 in 4 Children Would Be Impacted If Insurance Companies Could Deny Or Charge More Because Of A Pre-Existing Condition. [Center for American Progress, 4/5/17]

Short-Term Junk Plans Can Refuse To Cover Essential Health Benefits. “Typical short-term policies do not cover maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health care, preventive care, and other essential benefits, and may limit coverage in other ways.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/9/18]

Under Many Short-Term Junk Plans, Benefits Are Capped At $1 Million Or Less. Short-term plans can impose lifetime and annual limits –  “for example, many policies cap covered benefits at $1 million or less.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/9/18]

Commonwealth Fund: “Cost Sharing Designs In Short-Term Coverage Leave Members Facing Major, Unpredictable Financial Risk.” “The out-of-pocket maximum for each best-selling plan is higher than that allowed in individual or employer plans under the ACA, when adjusting for the shorter plan duration. When considering the deductible, the best-selling plans have out-of-pocket maximums ranging from $7,000 to $20,000 for just three months of coverage. In comparison, the ACA limits out-of-pocket maximums to $7,150 for the entire year.” [Commonwealth Fund, 8/11/17]

Short-Term Junk Plans Can Retroactively Cancel Coverage After Patients File Claims. “Individuals in STLDI plans would be at risk for rescission. Rescissions are retroactive cancellations of coverage, often occurring after individuals file claims due to medical necessity. While enrollees in ACA coverage cannot have their policy retroactively cancelled, enrollees in STLDI plans can.” [Wakely/ACAP, April 2018]

Short-Term Junk Plan Currently Being Sold In Thirteen States Does Not Cover Services For Patients Admitted To Hospital On The Weekend. “That brings us to the short-term plan marketed by UnitedHealth’s Golden Rule subsidiary….To begin with, the Golden Rule plan excludes pregnancy and provides for a lifetime maximum benefit of only $250,000. Remarkably, it won’t cover hospital room, board or nursing services for patients admitted to a hospital on a Friday or Saturday, unless for an emergency or for necessary surgery the next day.” [Los Angeles Times, 4/26/18]

JUNK COVERAGE PROVIDED BY SHORT-TERM PLANS LEAVES THOSE WHO GET SICK WITH THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN UNPAID BILLS

Atlanta Woman With Short-Term Plan Was Diagnosed With Cancer And Left With $400,000 Medical Bill.Dawn Jones…bought a short-term plan from Golden Rule Insurance, a unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc., so she’d be covered between jobs, according to court documents. Then, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite showing evidence she was unaware of the cancer when she bought the policy, the insurer didn’t pay for Jones’s treatment, leaving her with a $400,000 medical bill, according to a complaint she filed against the company in September 2016… the judge sided with Golden Rule and dismissed the case in August, finding the policy agreement clearly stated that preexisting conditions wouldn’t be covered, even if the customer was unaware of the condition. Jones wasn’t diagnosed until after she bought her policy.” [Bloomberg, 10/17/17]

San Antonio Man Paid Premiums To Short-Term Plan Company For Six Years, And Was Denied Coverage When He Developed Kidney Disease. “Pat’s decision to save some money by buying short-term insurance was a big mistake, says Karen Pollitz, project director of Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute and a leading expert on the individual-insurance market. ‘These short-term policies are a joke,’ she says. ‘Nobody should ever buy them. It is false security that is being sold. It’s junk.’ That’s because diagnosing and treating an illness may not fall neatly into six-month increments. While Pat had been continuously covered since 2002 by the same company, Assurant Health, each successive policy treated him as a brand-new customer. In looking back over Pat’s medical records, the company noticed test results from December, eight months earlier. Though Pat’s doctors didn’t determine the precise cause of the problem until the following July, his kidney disease was nonetheless judged a ‘pre-existing condition’ — meaning his insurance wouldn’t cover it, since he was now under a different six-month policy from the one he had when he got those first tests.” [Time, 3/5/09]

In San Francisco, Woman Was Hit With $150,000 Charge After Short-Term Health Plan Refused Coverage. “Grace Wood, an instructor at a university in San Francisco, bought a short-term plan in 2013. When she had to have a heart procedure, her insurer, HCC Life, balked, leaving her with roughly $150,000 in unpaid medical bills.” [New York Times, 11/30/17]

Short-Term Insurance Plan Refuses To Pay For Man’s Triple Bypass Surgery, Leaving Family With $900,000 In Bills. “One case pending in federal court involves Kevin Conroy, who had a heart attack in 2014 and underwent triple bypass surgery, just two months after his wife, Linda, obtained a short-term policy over the telephone. Their insurer, HHC Life, refused to pay the bills. ‘We freaked out,’ Ms. Conroy said. ‘What were we going to do? It was $900,000.’ The insurer informed the Conroys the policy was ‘rescinded,’ to use the industry jargon. “[New York Times, 11/30/17]

SUBPAR COVERAGE OFFERED BY SHORT-TERM PLANS RAISES HEALTH COSTS FOR CONSUMERS WHILE RAKING IN PROFITS FOR INSURANCE COMPANIES

Short-Term Health Plans Rake In Profits For Insurance Companies While Leaving Consumers Unprotected. “That’s why they make up such a high-profit portion of the insurance industry: They are largely designed to rake in premiums, even as they offer little in return. And even when they do pay for things, they often provide confusing or conflicting protocols for making claims. Collectively, short-term plans can leave thousands of people functionally uninsured or underinsured without addressing or lowering real systemwide costs.” [The Atlantic, 4/25/18]

More Premium Dollars Can Go Toward Profit, Rather Than Coverage With Short-Term Plans. Short-term plans do not have to follow the Medical Loss Ratio, meaning that more premium dollars gan go toward administration and profit than under other plans. For instance, the largest seller of short-term insurance only requires 50% of premium dollars to pay for medical coverage, much less than the 80% required by ACA-compliant plans. [Wakely/ACAP, April 2018]

Junk Plans Lead To Higher Premiums For Those Enrolled In Full Coverage Plans. “While recent state-level and federal proposals differ in the details, they’d have a similar result: People who buy skimpy plans would face staggering costs when they get sick, and consumers who want comprehensive coverage could face drastic premium increases.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2/5/18]

Short-Term Plans Divide Insurance Market Between Sick And Healthy. “Because short-term plans are not considered individual market coverage that must meet ACA standards, they can, and typically do, exclude coverage of pre-existing medical conditions, limit the amount of benefits that a person can receive from the plan in a year, and fail to include many of the essential health benefits, such as maternity care, mental health and substance-use disorder services, and prescription drugs…Short-term plans would be most likely to attract healthier people, leading to premium increases for ACA-compliant plans and destabilizing individual insurance markets across the nation.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 11/29/17]

Junk Plans Mean Higher Premiums For People With Pre-Existing Conditions. By promoting short-term policies, the administration is making a trade-off: lower premiums and less coverage for healthy people, and higher premiums for people with preexisting conditions who need more comprehensive coverage.” [Washington Post, 5/1/18]

JUNK PLANS DESTABILIZE THE INDIVIDUAL MARKET, DRIVING UP COSTS FOR MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES

Gary Claxton, Kaiser Family Foundation Vice President: Short-Term Plans “Draw In Healthy People And Spit Them Back Into The Marketplace When They’re Sick.” “Short-term health plans, meanwhile, have the ability to charge sick people more than healthy people, to deny people with preexisting conditions, and kick people off the plans if they get sick. If federal agencies decided to lift the limits on the short-term plans, and to exempt people on them from the penalty for not buying health insurance, Obamacare’s individual market could become destabilized, Claxton says. Healthy people would join the short-term plans when they were healthy, stay on them for a year, and pay little for skimpier coverage. If they got sick, they would be kicked off those plans and onto the Obamacare exchanges, where coverage is expansive but prices would be higher than they are now.” [The Atlantic, 10/12/17]

Tim Jost, Health Law Expert: Short Term Health Plans Provide Subpar Coverage and Destabilize Market. “As their name suggests, short-term plans provide coverage for a limited period of time, often six months or less. They generally don’t cover such things as preexisting conditions, maternity services or prescription drugs. The policies typically have maximum coverage limits of about $1 million. Insurers can turn people down if they’re sick and may decide not to renew someone’s policy… ‘The big health insurance companies are really mixed on this,’ said Timothy Jost, emeritus professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law and an expert on the health law. ‘They see this as a seriously destabilizing force in the market, this crap coverage.’” [Kaiser Health News, 1/31/17]

When Healthy Individuals Opt For Short-Term Plans, Costs Go Up For Those Who Are Sick. To the extent that healthy individuals opt for cheaper short-term policies instead of ACA-compliant plans, such adverse selection contributes to instability in the reformed non-group market and raises the cost of coverage for people who have health conditions.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/9/18]

Larry Levitt, Kaiser Family Foundation Senior Vice President: Short-Term Plans Will Raise Premiums for Middle Class Families. “‘The repeal of the mandate and expansion of association health plans and the rise of short-term plans will certainly send premiums rising for middle-class people with pre-existing conditions whose only option is the [ObamaCare]-regulated market,’ said Larry Levitt, a vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation.” [The Hill, 1/7/18]

KEY HEALTH INSURANCE STAKEHOLDERS WARN AGAINST SHORT-TERM PLANS

98 Percent Of Health Groups That Submitted Comments To HHS Have Serious Concerns About The Short-Term Proposal.  “More than 98% — or 335 of 340 — of the healthcare groups that commented on the proposal to loosen restrictions on short-term health plans criticized it, in many cases warning that the rule could gravely hurt sick patients.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/30/18]

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network: “Health Care Changes Could Leave Millions Of Cancer Patients And Survivors Unable To Access Meaningful Coverage.” “Today’s executive order jeopardizes the ability of millions of cancer patients, survivors and those at risk for the disease from being able to access or afford meaningful health insurance. Exempting an entire set of health plans from covering essential health benefits like prescription drugs or specialty care and allowing expansion and renewability of bare-bones short-term plans will split the insurance market. If younger and healthier people leave the market, people with serious illnesses like cancer will be left facing higher and higher premiums with few, if any, insurance choices.  Moreover, those who purchase cheap plans are likely to discover their coverage is inadequate when an unexpected health crisis happens leaving them financially devastated and costing the health care system more overall.” [ACS CAN, 10/12/17]

Blue Cross Blue Shield Officials Worry Short-Term Health Plans “Could Really Weaken The Efforts To Stabilize The Marketplace.” “Short-term plans can turn away people with pre-existing conditions, place caps on how much they’ll cover, and decline to cover services like maternity care. All of which means they could siphon healthy consumers out of the ACA’s marketplaces. ‘It could really weaken the efforts to stabilize the marketplace,’ says Kris Haltmeyer, BCBSA’s vice president of legislative and regulatory policy.” [Axios, 2/6/18]

American Academy of Family Physicians: STLD Plans Would Destabilize Individual Market. “We are troubled by how the proposed rule would further destabilize the individual market by drawing young, healthy people away from meaningful, comprehensive coverage…under the proposed rule, insurers could reduce or eliminate certain EHBs to avoid vulnerable, expensive patients by excluding specific services.” [Letter to HHS, 4/18/18]

ACS CAN: Short-Term Plans Are Exempt From Important Consumer Protections. “We are very concerned about policies that would expand access to STLD policies because these products are exempt from important consumer protections, such as prohibitions on lifetime and annual dollar limits, limits on the use of pre-existing condition exclusions, and the prohibition on medical underwriting…We are afraid that some consumers choose to enroll in STLD policies simply because of the lower premium and are unaware of the limitations of the coverage.” [ACS CAN letter to HHS, 4/20/18]

Alliance of Community Health Plans: Concerned It Will Leave Consumers With Fewer Coverage Options “ACHP is also concerned that the proposed rule will cause more insurers to flee the market, leaving consumers with fewer coverage options.” [Letter to HHS, 4/19/18]

American College of Rheumatology: Short-Term Plans Will Hurt Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis. “We urge the agencies to consider how healthy individuals leaving the exchanges to purchase STLDI plans would affect market stability and premiums for those still in the health exchange. Potentially, our patients with diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis could see an upward swing in their premiums, causing further affordability and access issues” [American College of Rheumatology, 4/23/18]

AHIP: Short-Term Plans Should Not Be Offered As Replacement For Comprehensive Coverage.  “‘We recommend that short-term plans should not be offered as a full replacement for comprehensive coverage,’ AHIP says — because that could pull healthy customers out of the market for ACA coverage.” [Axios, 4/23/18]

Dr. David O. Barbe, president of American Medical Association: These Plans Would Result In “Inadequate Health Insurance Coverage.” “We believe the proposed rule, however, would culminate in plans being offered that fall far short of maintaining crucial state and federal patient protections, disrupt and destabilize the individual health insurance markets, and result in substandard, inadequate health insurance coverage.” [Forbes, 4/22/18]

Margaret Murray, CEO of Association for Community Affiliated Plans: Short Term Plans “strip every provision that might be of value to a patient.” “Not only do STLDI plans not cover pre-existing conditions, but what was covered when you bought the plan can be excluded three months later when you try to renew the plan. Rescissions are rampant in the STLDI market, leading to retroactive cancellation of policies that stick patients with enormous medical bills.” [Washington Examiner, 4/26/18]

Mario Molina, Former CEO of Molina Healthcare: Hopefully You Already Had Kids, Because Short-Term Plans Gut Maternity Care. “Hopefully, you had kids already, because under the short-term health plan expansion encouraged by an executive order signed last year, covered maternity care vanishes in 100% of plans analyzed by [the Kaiser Family Foundation]” [Mario Molina, 4/23/18]

California Department Of Insurance: “Trump Executive Order Will Create A Health Insurance Race To The Bottom.” “Increased sale of short-term policies that don’t cover essential health care needs or comply with most rules that apply to health insurance will harm consumers and create health insurance market instability.” [CDI, 10/12/17]

Sandy Praeger, Former Republican State Insurance Regulator In Kansas And Onetime President Of National Association Of Insurance Commissioners: “Basically anybody who knows anything about healthcare is opposed to these proposals.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/30/18]

Trump Administration Stacks Deck Against Next Year’s Health Care Shoppers

Washington, D.C. – After the Trump Administration finalized “rules of the road” for next year’s Affordable Care Act marketplaces that favor insurance companies over the American people, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“President Trump and Congressional Republicans have already set the stage for higher prices and more confusion next fall with laws and regulations that undermine the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. Now, the Trump Administration is compounding its attack by encouraging insurance companies to undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions with a race-to-the-bottom approach that fundamentally undermines the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefit coverage guarantee. Meanwhile, the Administration is sweetening the deal for insurance companies by loosening restrictions on extreme rate hikes.

“Today’s Trump Administration action will make it even harder for Americans to sign up for coverage next year, with further cuts to local assisters who help families navigate their options and enroll. The Administration’s own data from this year’s enrollment period shows that their cuts to outreach and assistance dampened enrollment – especially among younger and healthier consumers – while states that ran their own marketplaces did not see similar drop-off. Today’s sabotage will compound that problem.

“As we look ahead to this fall’s open enrollment period, when premiums are already expected to spike due to harmful actions by Trump and his Republican Congress, there is simply no excuse for setting rules of the road that allow insurance companies to chip away at benefit quality and hike rates with impunity, while at the same time stripping away resources that help Americans understand their insurance options. This short-sighted, bad-faith rule is yet another brick in the wall that Republicans are building between the American people and access to good, affordable coverage.”

Final Open Enrollment Numbers Confirm Staying Power of ACA

Washington, D.C. – As the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released the final open enrollment numbers for 2018, which showed that 11.8 million people nationwide bought Affordable Care Act marketplace coverage, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Millions of Americans rely on the Affordable Care Act for quality, affordable coverage, and today’s confirmed enrollment numbers provide clear evidence of the law’s critical importance in American health care. But for over a year, the Trump Administration has been carrying out an unprecedented sabotage campaign designed to undermine the law and make it fail. Nowhere was this more apparent that the Administration’s attacks on open enrollment, which included cutting the advertising budget by 90 percent, halving the enrollment time, and denying help for people trying to get coverage. But the American people rejected this partisan scaremongering, and now we know that 11.8 million people signed up for marketplace coverage, almost matching last year’s total enrollment despite the many obstacles the Trump Administration placed in their way. While this is heartening news, these 11.8 million people and millions more are living in fear that the Republican war on health care will hike their rates and make care prohibitively expensive or unavailable to people with pre-existing conditions.

“The American people don’t want to go back to a time when insurers could deny them health care for having a pre-existing condition or be priced out of the market based on their age, gender, or medical history. The Affordable Care Act is a lifeline for millions of Americans, and Republicans’ continuing attempts to undermine the law are being met with resistance through enrollment, protests, and at the ballot box as the American continue to say: enough is enough – it’s time for Republicans to end their war on our care.”

New KFF Poll Confirms Hidden Cost of Sabotage

Anxiety About Health Care Mounts Due to Destructive Republican Rhetoric

Washington, DC – After new polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation confirmed Americans’ mounting anxiety about Republican health care sabotage, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Despite everything Republicans have thrown at it, the Affordable Care Act still protects every single American with health insurance and connects millions of previously uninsured people with coverage but you wouldn’t know it listening to Trump and Republicans in Congress. Republicans need to realize that misleading the public, sabotaging the law and spreading fear has real and damaging consequences. Whether you’re a person with a pre-existing condition or the parent of a sick kid, you deserve elected officials who make life easier, not scarier. The constant anxiety Americans now face is yet another hidden cost of Republicans’ relentless repeal-and-sabotage campaign against our health care.”

Key takeaways from the survey:

  • About half the public overall believes the ACA marketplaces are “collapsing,” including six in ten of those with coverage purchased through these marketplaces. This belief reflects the ongoing uncertainty caused by Republican sabotage and Trump’s divisive rhetoric, but contradicts what the President’s own economic advisors have confirmed about the stability and strength of the individual market.
  • Because of Republican sabotage, the number of people who are “very worried” or “somewhat worried” that rate hikes will make coverage unaffordable has skyrocketed to 67%, compared with 38% in October 2017.
    • People are more worried about copays and deductibles – up from 42% to 69%.
    • People are more worried that insurance companies will stop selling plans – up from 34% to 49%.
    • People are more worried that there won’t be any plans in their area – up from 33% to 51%.
  • One-third (34 percent) of shoppers in the individual market say the individual mandate that Republicans repealed was a “major reason” why they chose to buy insurance, and one in ten say they will not buy coverage without it. Research indicates that those most likely to drop coverage are “young invincibles,” who balance the risk pool and act as a downward pressure on premiums. Because of Republicans’ individual mandate repeal, CBO forecasts that average premiums in the nongroup market will increase by 10% in most years of the coming decade.

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.

Pew Poll: Health Care Is The #1 Pocketbook Issue for American Families

Today, the Pew Research Center released a new survey that finds the number-one pocketbook issue for Americans of all income brackets is health care, confirming the vital importance of this issue to American families. The new data echoes a body of recent polling that indicates health care is a top issue heading into the 2018 midterm elections.

Key findings include:

  • More than half of those surveyed said that health care affects their household’s financial situation “a lot,” the only issue which more than half of Americans rated a key economic issue.

  • Health care is “a top household financial issue” across all income levels, with 53% of those earning more than $100,000 and 52% of those earning $30,000 or less saying it has a large effect.

 

The Republican War on Health Care: First They Sabotaged It, Then They Refused to Fix It, Now they Own It

Republicans Bear 100% of Responsibility for Avoidable Premium Increases Set to Hit Millions of Middle Class Families This Fall

BEFORE PRESIDENT TRUMP’S SABOTAGE, THE MARKETS WERE STABILIZING

Trump White House Today Admits The Marketplaces Were Stabilizing. “After an initial adjustment period, insurers’ financial health, as measured by their stock prices, surpassed earlier levels … While insurers initially incurred losses in the ACA marketplaces as they adjusted to new regulations and a relatively unhealthy risk pool, insurers are now profiting on the individual market as well.” [CEA, 3/18/18]

In 2017, Congressional Budget Office Reports: ACA Market Is Stable. “The subsidies to purchase coverage combined with the penalties paid by uninsured people stemming from the individual mandate are anticipated to cause sufficient demand for insurance by people with low health care expenditures for the market to be stable.”  [Congressional Budget Office, 3/13/17]

In 2017, S&P Global Reports: ACA Market Will Remain Stable So Long As The Trump Administration Is Not “Disruptive.” S&P Global repeatedly reports that “2016 results and the market enrollment so far in 2017 show that the ACA individual market is not in a ‘death spiral.’ However, every time something new (and potentially disruptive) is thrown into the works, it impedes the individual market’s path to stability.” [S&P Global, 4/7/17]

THEN REPUBLICAN REPEAL ATTEMPTS UNDERMINED THE MARKET

Ongoing Republican repeal attempts throughout 2017 created uncertainty that insurance companies said forced them to hike premiums: “Obamacare markets are undergoing a slow-motion meltdown as Republicans stoke a climate of uncertainty while struggling to agree on their own plan for overhauling American health care.” [Politico, 6/8/17]

AND IF THAT WASN’T ENOUGH, PRESIDENT TRUMP STARTED TO SABOTAGE THE MARKETS, WHILE REPUBLICANS ON THE HILL DID NOTHING TO STOP IT

On October 13, 2017, President Trump Ended Cost Sharing Reductions (CSRs), Payments To Insurers That Help Lower Income Americans Afford Health Coverage In The ACA Marketplace. [Washington Post, 10/13/17]

Kaiser Family Foundation: Lack Of CSR Payments Resulted In Surcharge In Premiums Of 7.1 To 38 Percent. “As shown in Table 1, among those insurers that specify the surcharge on silver plans for the discontinuation of CSR payments, the amount of the surcharge ranges from 7.1% to 38%.” [KFF, 10/27/17]

THEN CONGRESS PASSED A TAX CUT FOR THE WEALTHY AND CORPORATIONS THAT ALSO RAISED PREMIUMS AND WILL TAKE COVERAGE AWAY FROM MILLIONS OF PEOPLE

Last December, Congressional Republicans Passed A Tax Bill That Strips 13 Million Of Insurance And Raises Premiums By Double Digits. “The Senate bill’s repeal of the individual mandate (the requirement that most people get health coverage or pay a penalty) would cause 13 million more people to become uninsured, raising the uninsured rate among the non-elderly from 11 percent to about 16 percent, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates. It also would raise premiums by an average of 10 percent in the individual market by 2027, according to CBO.” [CBPP, 12/8/17]

Urban Institute Predicts Near 20 Percent Premium Increases Next Year And Millions Of Americans Losing Coverage Due To The Repeal Provision In The Tax Law And Trump Sabotage.  According to a study by the non-partisan Urban Institute, Republican health care sabotage is set to artificially inflate premiums by double digits for millions of families this fall. The study forecasts an 18.2% increase in 2019 premiums for Affordable Care Act plans and millions of Americans losing their coverage because the Trump and Congress repealed the individual mandate and the Trump Administration’s proposal to sell junk plans that do not meet ACA requirements. [Urban Institute, 3/14/18]

CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS BROKE THEIR PROMISE TO PASS A STABILIZATION BILL IN 2017

After Being Promised To Have A Stabilization Bill As Part Of The Tax Bill, Sens. Alexander And Collins Issued A Statement Saying They Asked Sen. McConnell To Postpone Stabilization Until 2018. ‘Rather than considering a broad year-end funding agreement as we expected, it has become clear that Congress will only be able to pass another short-term extension to prevent a government shutdown and to continue a few essential programs,’ said the Senators.  ‘For this reason, we have asked Senator McConnell not to offer this week our legislation which independent analysts Avalere and Oliver-Wyman say would reduce premiums by about 20 percent for the 9 million Americans who have no government subsidies to help them buy insurance in the individual market. Instead, we will offer it after the first of the year when the Senate will consider the omnibus spending bill, the Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization, funding for Community Health Centers, and other legislation that was to have been enacted this week.’” [Alexander and Collins Statement, 12/20/17]

HOUSE REPUBLICANS INDICATED THEY WOULDN’T SUPPORT STABILIZATION

Speaker Ryan Opposed Efforts To Stabilize The ACA Dating Back To October 2017. Last October, Ryan spokesman, Doug Andres, said, “The speaker does not see anything that changes his view that the Senate should keep its focus on the repeal and replace of Obamacare.” [Matt Fuller, Huffington Post Reporter, 10/18/17]

House Conservatives Called Alexander-Murray Stabilization Bill A “Nonstarter.” “House conservatives appear united in opposition to the health care stabilization proposal crafted by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray. ‘Right now it’s a nonstarter,’ House Freedom Caucus member Dave Brat said Tuesday during a Conversations with Conservatives press event.” [Roll Call, 10/24/17]

Rep. Tom Cole: “The Idea You’re Going To Vote For Billions Of Dollars To Stabilize A System You Never Supported In The First Place — Pretty Hard To Choke Down.”  “In addition to the dispute over abortion language, GOP lawmakers were reluctant to sign off on provisions that shored up the Affordable Care Act, a law they all opposed. ‘Nobody in that room voted for Obamacare, so the idea you’re going to vote for billions of dollars to stabilize a system you never supported in the first place — pretty hard to choke down,’ said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.).” [Washington Post, 3/19/18]

PRESIDENT TRUMP AND SPEAKER RYAN REPEATEDLY TRIED TO DERAIL STABILIZATION NEGOTIATIONS BY ADDING MORE CONSERVATIVE DEMANDS

September 2017: “House Speaker Paul Ryan And The White House Have Informed Senate Republican Leaders That They Oppose A Bipartisan Plan To Stabilize Obamacare Being Written In The Senate.” “House Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House have informed Senate Republican leaders that they oppose a bipartisan plan to stabilize Obamacare being written in the Senate, according to Trump administration and congressional sources, in a clear bid to boost the Senate’s prospects of repealing the health law.” [Politico, 9/19/17]

March 2018: The White House Released A List Of Conservative, Deal-breaking Demands To Stabilization. In the middle of bipartisan negotiations on stabilization, the White House released a list of its conservative demands, including:

  • Expanding the Hyde abortion language
  • Codifying the Administration’s Short-Term proposal into law that undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions
  • Expanding Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) that is essentially another tax cut for the wealthy
  • Imposing an age tax on older Americans by letting insurers charge people over 50 five times more than younger people. [White House Document, obtained by Politico, 3/8/18]

The Hill: White House pushes for conservative changes to ObamaCare fix

Politico: White House pitch to bolster Obamacare includes tough trade-offs for Democrats

Wall Street Journal: Trump Administration Pushes Conservative Goals in Health-Care Market Changes

Vox: The White House might have just blown up the last best hope to stabilize Obamacare

Talking Points Memo: White House Demands Threaten Bipartisan Effort To Bring Down Health Premiums

NOW, THE LATEST REPUBLICAN STABILIZATION PLAN THREATENS PRE EXISTING CONDITIONS AND ESSENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS

           [AARP, 3/21/18]

AND, REPUBLICANS ADDED A  PARTISAN POISON PILL THEY KNEW WOULD TORPEDO BIPARTISAN STABILIZATION NEGOTIATIONS

Statements

Sen. Patty Murray: “They’re Moving Further And Further Away From Their Original Goal.” “We’re not going to give them an expansion of Hyde and say that’s a goal we all agree to…They’re moving further and further away from their original goal, which was to make sure people have lower costs and access.” [Washington Post, 3/8/18]

Sen. Patty Murray: “They Keep Throwing Obstacles In.” “If we would just go back to the basic premise here and do what we all agreed to do, we’d be able to get this done.” [Washington Post, 3/8/18]

Speaker Paul Ryan Refuses To Introduce Stabilization Without Restricting Women’s Access To Health Care. “House Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.) told his GOP conference at a Tuesday meeting that he wouldn’t bring the measures to the floor without accompanying language known as the Hyde Amendment, ensuring taxpayer dollars can’t go toward plans that cover abortions.” [Washington Post, 3/8/18]

Headlines

  • Washington Examiner: House Republicans seek anti-abortion protections in Obamacare stabilization bills
  • Huffington Post: Another Obamacare Stabilization Bill Is In Trouble, This Time Because Of Abortion

BY REFUSING TO ADDRESS THEIR OWN SABOTAGE WITH BIPARTISAN STABILIZATION, REPUBLICANS NOW BEAR RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CONSEQUENCES

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: Republicans “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. [Garin Poll, 9/5/17]

The GOP Stabilization Sham

Let’s be clear about one thing, except for perhaps a handful of Republicans (and perhaps not even that many) Republicans don’t care one iota about stabilizing the Affordable Care Act (which only needs stabilizing because of their very own sabotage).  As a party, their operating theory has been to destroy the law for eight years and to believe that they now want to make it work better is pure fancy.

This whole thing has been a GOP led sham.  Remember, the whole notion of a stabilization bill was dead late last year until they needed Susan Collins’ vote for the tax scam bill which ripped away health care from millions to fund tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations.  Collins is a Republican and was always going to vote for the tax bill – but she needed cover to vote for a bill that ripped away coverage and spiked premiums for millions of Americans.  She got it in the form of a promise to pass legislation to stabilize the markets – a promise we said from the beginning Republican’s would never keep.  We used to say that Collins got played by a desperate leadership which needed her vote for the only piece of major legislation they had a prayer of passing in 2017, but she’s been in Washington 30 years, she knew this was never going to happen – or, at a minimum, should have known.

Fast forward to today.  Republicans have seen the studies – they know their sabotage is going to massively spike premiums and threaten coverage – but they hate the ACA – always have – and broadly speaking have no interest in helping it survive.  They also know they need to provide cover to Collins because given the margins in the Senate they still need her vote on close bills.  So they put forward a bill that they know Democrats won’t support – which all but codifies junk plans, sets the stage for high risk pools and imposes unacceptable restrictions on abortion – a classic poison pill if there ever was one.  And they’ll force a vote on this bill separate from the omnibus because they know it will fail – which is what they want – and then they will blame Democrats for what ensues in the market and try to claim they would have fixed it.  That’s complete and utter horse manure and no reporter, editorial writer or voter should buy the GOP’s crocodile tears over the failure of their so-called stabilization bill.

My mother taught me growing up that when in doubt consider the source.  Republicans are going to claim that THEY are the ones who want to stabilize OBAMACARE and that Democrats stood in the way?  Give me a break.

Brad Woodhouse, Campaign Director

Protect Our Care