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Obamacare Archives — Page 2 of 18 — Protect Our Care

The Alexander-Collins Sham Stabilization Bill

Protect Our Care Campaign Chair Leslie Dach released the following statement on the sham, partisan Alexander-Collins health care stabilization bill:

“The Alexander-Collins legislation should be rejected. It is bad for Americans’ health care. This proposal would result in net coverage losses, higher out-of-pocket costs, and fewer coverage options for many Americans. Despite what Republicans may be publicly saying, Alexander-Collins is not a serious attempt to stabilize the marketplaces. House Republicans admit they oppose stabilization. And Republicans are insisting on a poison pill that would further their war on women’s health. This proposal is a partisan bill designed to fail, and it represents nothing more politics at its worst from elected officials who otherwise have voted to repeal Americans’ health care.”

BACKGROUND

  • The Republican “stabilization” bill includes expansive and restrictive new anti-abortion policy that would have far-reaching consequences for women’s health. Republicans claim they want to apply the existing ‘no federal funding for abortions’ Hyde Amendment to stabilization legislation, but are in fact proposing something entirely new: language that would result in an effective ban on private insurance coverage for abortion, including in plans purchased by private individuals using no federal money, which experts predict would coerce insurance companies into dropping abortion coverage from all plans, both on and off the Marketplace, in order to receive CSRs or reinsurance payments.
  • This proposal would ban a woman from using her own money to buy insurance that covers a medical service the Supreme Court says she has a constitutional right to access and represent a new frontier in Republicans’ war on women’s health. And it’s entirely hypocritical, because the Affordable Care Act was signed into law with restrictions that prohibit insurance companies from using public funds for abortion coverage, with President Obama even having signed an executive order emphasizing that none of its funds can be used to cover abortion services.
  • As Aviva Aron-Dine with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains, the CBO finds that this legislation would result in net coverage losses, with larger losses for moderate-income consumers than gains for middle- and upper-income consumers. Ultimately, this legislation would result in net coverage losses between 500,000 and one million people.
  • Moreover, Aron-Dine notes that the CBO has confirmed that the federal savings from restoring CSRs come from coverage losses, higher premiums, and higher out-of-pocket costs for those with incomes below 400 percent of the federal poverty line, which would result in worse outcomes for consumers between 200 and 400 percent of the poverty line. In fact, the savings would come from a combination of consumers dropping coverage and those maintaining coverage being forced to pay more for doing so.
  • When Republicans’ constituents face double-digit premium increases in the fall because their Congressmen scuttled stabilization, they’ll know exactly who to blame.

Key Quote: ‘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).”

Dean Heller Traded Thousands of Nevadans’ Health Care for This One Trump Tweet

The tweet:

Heller’s political payoff:

Heller GOP Primary Challenger Tarkanian drops out of U.S. Senate race, jumps into 3rd Congressional District at Trump’s request [Nevada Independent, 3/16/18]

And the price Heller paid Trump?

Voting for a bill that HE HIMSELF saidtakes insurance from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans” after Trump threatened: “He wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?”

Trump rewards loyalty in Nevada and shows the power he wields over GOP [CNN, 3/17/18]

Last summer when Sen. Dean Heller was considering bucking President Donald Trump on health care, the president issued a not-so-subtle threat to the vulnerable Nevada Republican. “Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?” Trump said at a meeting at the White House with GOP senators. Heller laughed off the comment, but GOP senators were alarmed. And the subtle threat may have had an effect. Over the next several months, Heller aligned himself closely with the President, endorsing his efforts to repeal Obamacare, appearing right behind Trump at a White House event celebrating passage of the tax law, and avoiding direct criticism of Trump despite the seemingly endless string of controversies coming out of the West Wing.

Meet the Press Guest: Republicans Could Lose the House in 2018 Because of Affordable Care Act Repeal Attempts

Washington, D.C. – This morning on Meet the Press, Cook Political Report National Editor Amy Walter told Chuck Todd: “Republicans could lose the House in 2018 by trying to repeal Obamacare.” Here are Walter’s full remarks:

“It was in Pennsylvania-18 where the generic ballot, when you ask that question right before the election, was 42-42 in a district that Trump carried by twenty points. The challenge for Republicans right now isn’t just that the President is unpopular and has lost popularity even in districts he won in 2016 – the Party’s unpopular, and the issues are unpopular. What Conor Lamb talked about, and Senator Brown raised this, about the issue of health care, is gonna be a big issue in this election. The irony is Democrats lost the House in 2010 on Obamacare, Republicans could lose the House in 2018 by trying to repeal Obamacare.”

Watch the full clip here.

After PA-18 Defeat, GOP Continues to Sabotage Health Care In So-Called Stabilization Bill

Washington, D.C. – Following the major role health care played in Democratic Congressman-elect Conor Lamb’s upset victory in PA-18, studies showing that Republican sabotage and repeal could raise premiums up to 94%, and despite all that, reports of ongoing Republican efforts to sabotage health care in the upcoming Omnibus,  Protect Our Care Campaign Chair Leslie Dach released the following statement:

“Despite Tuesday’s groundbreaking election in Pennsylvania, the clearest wake-up call yet that GOP health care sabotage is an albatross around the neck of anyone who supports it, Congressional Republicans continue to sabotage Americans’ health care, pushing a stabilization package that would not even begin to undo the damage they have done, and launching new attacks on women’s health.

“Because President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have been trying to repeal and sabotage our health care for over a year, premiums are up twenty percent and millions of Americans have lost their coverage. But instead of addressing the very real damage they have caused in order to lower premiums, Republicans would rather attacks women’s health and encourage insurance companies to offer junk plans that can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

“Enough is enough. It’s time for the GOP to stop this war on our health care. If President Trump and Congressional Republicans think that grandstanding on a stabilization bill to fix their own wreckage will give them political cover, they are dead wrong.”

BACKGROUND

THE GOP HAS ATTEMPTED TO SABOTAGE AMERICANS’ HEALTH CARE AT EVERY TURN

From the moment that Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans took power, they’ve done everything they can to repeal and sabotage Americans’ health care. Now they’re claiming they want to stabilize the marketplaces and lower premiums. This false rhetoric is merely the latest ploy from Republicans who have seen the writing on the wall – Americans are furious about the Republican repeal-and-sabotage agenda.

For the better part of a year, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act legislatively, striving to kick 32 million Americans off of their coverage and returning to the days when insurers had the power to choose who to deny coverage to by removing protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

When this failed, they doubled down on their administrative sabotage, carrying out a closed-door campaign to undermine the law through administrative actions. These included cancelling cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments designed to lower premiums; using funding for coverage enrollment to launch a propaganda campaign against the law; and attempting to gut open enrollment by reducing the advertising budget by 90% percent, costing an additional 1.1 million people coverage.

These repeal-and-sabotage attempts culminated in December, when the GOP voted to get rid of the individual mandate in their tax scam, ripping insurance away from ten million people and raising premiums double-digits for millions more in order to finance a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans and corporations.

In the time since, President Trump and his allies in Congress have promoted short-term health policies, which neglect key consumer protection provisions such as protections for those with pre-existing conditions and coverage mandates for essential benefits like maternity care; they have supported association health plans (AHPs), which raise costs for people with pre-existing conditions and further destabilize the insurance markets; and they have encouraged states to promote plans which violate the law, promoting and end-run around the ACA despite such procedures being labeled “wildly illegal.”

A study from the Urban Institute found that this sabotage will result in an increase in individual market premiums by an average of 18.2 percent for 2019.

THE GOP HAS REFUSED TO ACT ON MEASURES TO ACTUALLY STABILIZE THE MARKETS

What the GOP has not done through all of this, however, is undertake a genuine effort to actually stabilize the marketplaces.

Following the collapse of the legislative repeal bills in July, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) began holding hearings on stabilization, bringing in insurance commissioners, governors, and health care experts of both parties. The GOP refused to act on their recommendations, however, instead pivoting to yet another attempt to repeal the ACA through the Graham-Cassidy legislation.

After Graham-Cassidy, which would have kicked twenty million Americans’ off of their insurance and raised premiums double-digits went down in flames, the GOP went through yet another charade on stabilization, refusing to move forward on the bipartisan Alexander-Murray bill to address stabilization despite it having a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

A STABILIZATION BILL MUST ACTUALLY STABILIZE THE MARKETPLACE

Now, the GOP says it wants to support stabilization measures. Where was this in the winter, when notices of skyrocketing premiums were going out across the country? Where was this in the fall, when experts were on Capitol Hill lamenting the damage being done to the marketplace? Where was this in the summer, when advocates were begging the GOP to do something rather than push forward yet another repeal bill?

Congressional Republican efforts to undo the damage they and President Trump have caused are wholly insufficient and often turn to failed ideas like high risk pools, which will leave Americans with higher costs and worse coverage. Any bill to stabilize the insurance marketplaces and reverse Republican-caused sabotage must:

  • Expand affordability by increasing the value of premium tax credits and cost-sharing reduction protections;
  • Ensure cost sharing protections fulfill their original purpose of improving affordability and Basic Health Plans are fully funded in order to protect coverage levels;
  • Apply the consumer protections of the Affordable Care Act – such as guaranteed issue, community rating, protections for preexisting conditions – to short term duration plans and protect the essential health benefits from being undermined;
  • Provide for a national meaningful reinsurance program that reduces current premium levels and stabilizes the market;
  • Adequately fund outreach and enrollment efforts;
  • Reject bringing back high-risk pools and Association Health Plans; two failed experiments that would have a destabilizing effect on the marketplace by incentivizing healthier individuals to leave the ACA compliant market, thereby negatively affecting the risk pool and increasing premiums; and
  • Reject punitive and duplicative new anti-choice restrictions on health centers.

Many of the above provisions are included in the recent bills introduced in the Senate by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and in the House by Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Richard Neal (D-MA), and Bobby Scott (D-VA). If Republicans in Congress truly care about stabilization, they will work with Democrats to adopt these provisions and implement a bipartisan, common-sense package to lower premiums and expand coverage options. Anything else is just crocodile tears from elected officials more worried about partisan politics than about Americans’ health.

“Premiums Could Increase 90 Percent”: The Trump Administration’s Effect on Future Premiums By the Headlines

Yesterday, Covered California released an analysis outlining the future of the individual market under the Trump Administration and its constant barrage of sabotage. Its findings were striking:

  • All states’ individual markets risk higher than normal premium increases — ranging from 35 to 90 percent over three years — due to continued uncertainty at the federal level.
  • Premium increases in the individual markets will likely range from 12 to 32 percent in 2019, and cumulative increases from 2019-2021 will range from 35 percent to more than 90 percent.
  • Increases are on average more than double the rate of medical inflation as a result of healthier consumers leaving the individual market.
  • 17 states are more likely — because of their historic risk mix and enrollment — to have cumulative premium increases of 90 percent or more and 19 additional states are at a higher risk of experiencing hikes of 50 percent.

All in all, the report makes clear in no uncertain terms just how much the repeal and sabotage campaign being carried out by the Trump Administration and its Republican allies in Congress is harming Americans. Here’s how the report was covered in headlines:

Washington Post: Premiums for ACA health insurance plans could jump 90 percent in three years

The Hill: Study: ObamaCare premiums could increase 90 percent over three years for some states

Insurance Business Magazine: Report: States could see average health premium increases up to 30%

Salon: Health care premiums set to spike highest in Trump country

San Francisco Chronicle: California health insurance premiums could soar, analysis projects

Berkshire Eagle: Premiums for plans could jump 90% in 3 years

Stamford Advocate: Study: Connecticut premiums could rise 35 percent

CT Post: Study: Connecticut premiums could rise 35 percent

KCRA: California health care exchange head says rates to increase

REACTION ROUNDUP: Despite “Wildly Illegal” Affordable Care Act End-Run, Trump Administration Urges Idaho to Continue Sabotage

Yesterday, the Trump Administration confirmed that Idaho’s Affordable Care Act end-run is wildly illegal. Even so, CMS encouraged Idaho to explore other ways to sabotage the law.

Here’s a roundup of reactions to the Trump Administration’s continuing bad faith on protecting Idahoans’ health care:

Idaho Statesman: “With Some Modifications, The Noncompliant Plans Could Be Turned Into Short-term Plans For Customers.”

“Verma said her agency was sympathetic to Idaho officials’ concerns, and said President Trump is ‘committed to doing everything in his power to increase competition, choice, and access to lower-priced, high-quality health care options for all Americans.’ ‘As you know, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is failing to deliver quality health care options to the American people and has damaged health insurance markets across the nation, including Idaho’s,’ Verma wrote, noting that premium rates for coverage through the Idaho health insurance exchange have increased by more than 91 percent from 2014 to 2018, while insurance companies continue to incur losses. Verma also outlined some options that she believes Idaho could legally take under a recently proposed federal rule. That rule would expand the availability of short-term, limited duration health insurance by allowing consumers to buy short-term plans that would cover them for just under a year. She said that with some modifications, the noncompliant plans could be turned into short-term plans for customers.” [Idaho Statesman, 3/8/18]

Sen. Ron Wyden: “While They Claim To Be Upholding The Law, They Are Explicitly Inviting Idaho And Other States To Sell Short-term, Junk Insurance — The Exact Opposite Of The Protections Put In Place By The Affordable Care Act.”

“ObamaCare supporters were pleased but not overly impressed by the CMS move. ‘The Trump administration is talking out of both sides of their mouth,’ said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). ‘While they claim to be upholding the law, they are explicitly inviting Idaho and other states to sell short-term, junk insurance — the exact opposite of the protections put in place by the Affordable Care Act.’” [The Week, 3/8/18]

New York Times: “Verma Said That Idaho Had Other Options And Could Perhaps Achieve Much Of What It Wanted To Do Under A Regulation Proposed Last Month By Mr. Trump.”

“While rejecting the Idaho plan in its current form, Ms. Verma encouraged the state to keep trying, and she suggested that ‘with certain modifications,’ its proposal might be acceptable… Ms. Verma said that Idaho had other options and could perhaps achieve much of what it wanted to do under a regulation proposed last month by Mr. Trump.” [New York Times, 3/8/18]

Washington Post: “‘We Sincerely Appreciate Your Dedication To The People Of Idaho And Your Efforts To Address The Damage Caused By The [ACA],” Said The Letter.”

“The four-page letter to Idaho Gov. C. L. “Butch” Otter (R) and Cameron, made public early Thursday evening, straddles the Trump administration’s antipathy for the ACA with its need to enforce the sprawling 2010 health-care law that is a path to insurance coverage for millions of Americans. ‘We sincerely appreciate your dedication to the people of Idaho and your efforts to address the damage caused by the [ACA],” said the letter, signed by CMS Administrator Seema Verma. The letter said the president is eager to give states ‘as much flexibility as possible under the law to address the unique needs of their health insurance markets.’” [Washington Post, 3/8/18]

Rep Frank Pallone: “The Administration Continues Its Many Efforts To Undermine The Law And Chip Away At Its Protections, Including By Encouraging Idaho To Sell Junk Plans In Another Way.”

“Democrats cheered the Trump administration’s decision, but they still criticized other actions HHS has taken in recent months to weaken the law. ‘Make no mistake, however, while this is the right decision, the Administration continues its many efforts to undermine the law and chip away at its protections, including by encouraging Idaho to sell junk plans in another way,’ said Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.” [Politico, 3/8/18]

Talking Points Memo: “Verma Notes In The Letter That Enforcing The ACA Is ‘Certainly Not Our Preference.”

“Verma notes in the letter that enforcing the ACA is “certainly not our preference,” and encourages Idaho to find ways within the letter of the law to accomplish the same goals. She specifically advises the state to look into creating short-term health insurance plans—which recently received the Trump administration’s blessing to be sold in violation of the ACA’s regulations. [TPM, 3/8/18]

Bloomberg: “The White House Has Suggested To Congress That People Should Be Able To Renew Short-term Plans Without Being Subject To Medical Underwriting, The Process By Which Insurers Can Exclude Or Charge More For Pre-Existing Conditions.”

“Idaho’s proposal has put the Trump administration in a position it has found itself in before: charged with upholding a law it wants to get rid of, and that it has taken active steps to dismantle. Verma left open the possibility that plans like the state was proposing could be sold in a different form. If they were offered as short-term policies instead of annual coverage, they might be allowable, she said. The administration has pushed short-term plans as a way to offer consumers less expensive, less comprehensive options. In her letter to Idaho authorities, Verma said that ‘with certain modifications, these state-based plans could be legally offered’ as short-term plans. The White House has suggested to Congress that people should be able to renew short-term plans without being subject to medical underwriting, the process by which insurers can exclude or charge more for pre-existing conditions.” [Bloomberg, 3/8/18]

CNN: “Verma [Said] That She Wanted To Work With Idaho And Other States To Repair The ‘Damage’ Caused By The Affordable Care Act.”

“However, Verma did say that she wanted to work with Idaho and other states to repair the ‘damage’ caused by the Affordable Care Act. She suggested that Idaho could legally implement many of its proposals through short-term health insurance plans, which don’t have to adhere to all of Obamacare’s rules. The Trump administration is on course to allow insurers to offer these plans for up to a year, rather than just three months.” [CNN, 3/8/18]

Modern Health Care: “Secretary Alex Azar Told Insurers Thursday That The Trump Administration Will Do What It Can ‘Within The Law’ To Let Insurers Offer More Affordable Plans That Don’t Meet ACA Requirements.”

“The Trump administration on Thursday unexpectedly shot down Idaho’s effort to let insurers sell health plans that don’t comply with the Affordable Care Act’s coverage mandates, thwarting conservative efforts to unravel the law’s consumer protections directly for now. But CMS Administrator Seema Verma indicated that Idaho and other states could achieve the same goal by refashioning such noncompliant health plans as short-term products, which the administration would allow under a controversial proposed rule. HHS Secretary Alex Azar told insurers Thursday that the Trump administration will do what it can ‘within the law’ to let insurers offer more affordable plans that don’t meet ACA requirements. In a letter to Idaho Republican Gov. Butch Otter and state Insurance” [Modern Health Care, 3/8/18]

Washington Times: Verma: “This Is Certainly Not Our Preference.”

“‘If a state fails to substantially enforce the law, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has a responsibility to enforce these provisions on behalf of the State,’ Ms. Verma added. ‘This is certainly not our preference.’ She said Idaho, with some tweaks, might be able to offer similar plans under Mr. Trump’s bid to offer short-term plans for up to a year. There is a GOP effort to codify this change and let people renew these plans, setting up a parallel market for healthier people that could siphon valuable enrollees from Obamacare’s exchanges.” [Washington Times, 3/8/18]

Business Insider: Verma: Idaho’s Attempt “Was Admirable.”

“Verma said that while Idaho’s desire to bring down costs — the stated reason for the policy — was admirable, it was also illegal. ‘CMS is committed to working with states to give them as much flexibility as permissible under the law to provide their citizens the best possible access to healthcare,’ Verma said.” [Business Insider, 3/8/18]

The Hill: “Verma’s Letter Offered Alternatives To The State.”

“Verma’s letter offered alternatives to the state, including embracing a Trump administration move to allow different kinds of cheaper, skimpier insurance plans, known as short-term plans.” [The Hill, 3/8/18]

Vox: “The CMS Letter Did Include A Caveat That Provides Some Consolation To Republican Officials – In Washington And Boise – Who Want To Unwind Obamacare.”

“It is a victory for the rule of law, given how openly Idaho was defying the ACA. But the CMS letter did include a caveat that provides some consolation to Republicans officials — in Washington and in Boise — who want to unwind Obamacare. The state could conceivably tweak its proposal, Verma noted, to align with the Trump administration’s own proposed regulations to expand short-term insurance plans — which also do not have to comply with the ACA’s insurance regulations. It would be a back door to achieve the same end (providing an escape hatch from Obamacare for healthier customers, one that is likely to lead to higher premiums for those left behind in the law’s markets) and would be more clearly in line with the administration’s agenda.” [Vox, 3/8/18]

The Barrasso Bill: Less Choices, Worse Outcomes, More Repeal and Sabotage

Washington, D.C. – In response to Sen. John Barrasso’s (R-WY) introduction of the latest Republican ACA repeal and sabotage bill, the Improving Choices in Health Care Coverage Act, which would codify the expansion of the Trump Administration’s proposed short-term, junk insurance plans, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse release the following statement:

“This legislation is nothing more than the GOP’s latest attack against Affordable Care Act, and it should be dead on arrival in the Senate. A permanent embrace of junk insurance plans would once again allow insurers to discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions and re-implement lifetime caps, eliminate essential health benefits, allowing maternity care and substance abuse treatment to be denied, and leave Americans holding the bill – often running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Like the many GOP sabotage legislative efforts before it, the Barrasso bill must be rejected. Congressional Republicans should instead be work with their Democratic counterparts to come up with commonsense, bipartisan solutions which actually stabilize the marketplace and provide relief to Americans. Enough is enough – it’s time for the GOP to end their war on health care.”

Protect Our Care Outlines Must-Haves to Repair Trump-Inflicted Sabotage & Stabilize Health Markets

Washington, D.C. – As time runs out to repair the severe damage President Trump has inflicted on health care markets and stabilize them in order to protect American families from crippling rate hikes and coverage losses, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement and the minimum policy prescriptions Republicans must include in any stabilization bill to roll back President Trump’s and the GOP’s sabotage of American health care:

“From the moment Donald Trump took the oath of office, his Administration and its Republican allies in Congress have waged an unrelenting war on our health care. In the last week, analyses have been published showing that Administrative sabotage through short-term junk plans will increase premiums eighteen percent and increase the number of uninsured by nine million people; sabotage through the expansion of association health plans will increase individual market premiums four percent and reduce enrollment in ACA plans by three million; and the sabotage campaign against the open enrollment period has eroded consumer confidence. Just yesterday, in fact, the Administration approved a Medicaid waiver from Arkansas designed to deny the most vulnerable  health care coverage.

“Current Congressional Republican efforts to undo the damage they and President Trump have caused are wholly insufficient and rely on failed ideas like high risk pools which will leave Americans with higher costs and worse coverage. Make no mistake, impending rate hikes and coverage losses are the responsibility of Republicans and President Trump, and they are the ones who will pay the price with the public and at the polls if they don’t do what is necessary to reverse the damage. Any bill to stabilize the insurance marketplaces and reverse Republican-caused sabotage must:

  • Expand affordability by increasing the value of premium tax credits and cost-sharing reduction protections;
  • Ensure cost sharing protections fulfill their original purpose of improving affordability and Basic Health Plans are fully funded in order to protect coverage levels;
  • Apply the consumer protections of the Affordable Care Act – such as guaranteed issue, community rating, protections for preexisting conditions – to short term duration plans and protect the essential health benefits from being undermined;
  • Provide for a national meaningful reinsurance program that reduces current premium levels and stabilizes the market;
  • Adequately fund outreach and enrollment efforts;
  • Reject bringing back high-risk pools and Association Health Plans; two failed experiments that would have a destabilizing effect on the marketplace by incentivizing healthier individuals to leave the ACA compliant market, thereby negatively affecting the risk pool and increasing premiums; and
  • Reject punitive and duplicative new anti-choice restrictions on health centers.

“Many of these provisions are included in the recent bills introduced in the Senate by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and in the House by Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Richard Neal (D-MA), and Bobby Scott (D-VA).  If Republicans in Congress truly care about stabilization, they will work with Democrats to adopt these provisions and implement a bipartisan, common-sense package to lower premiums and expand coverage options. Anything else will be mere crocodile tears from elected officials more worried about partisan politics than Americans’ health.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT THE STUDIES SHOW: COSTS UP, COVERAGE DOWN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week in the War on Health Care

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SABOTAGE STRIKE TWO: PREMIUM INCREASES AND FURTHER MARKET DESTABILIZATION

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

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

SABOTAGE STRIKE THREE: LESS CONFIDENCE AND LESS COVERAGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: AMERICANS ACROSS THE COUNTRY FIGHT BACK

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