Obamacare Archives — Page 3 of 18 — Protect Our Care

Despite Trump, GOP Agenda of Repeal and Sabotage, Kaiser Poll Finds ACA More Popular Than Ever

This morning, the Kaiser Family Foundation released its February Health Tracking Poll, which found that the Affordable Care Act has a 54% favorability rating, the highest since the poll started tracking the public’s views in 2010.  The increasing support for the Affordable Care Act comes in spite of the efforts of President Trump and Congressional Republicans to repeal and sabotage the law.  Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement in response:

“Today’s Kaiser tracking poll is the clearest evidence yet that the partisan war on health care of President Trump and Congressional Republicans has fallen flat with the American people and is a surefire political loser for the GOP,” said Woodhouse. “Congressional Republicans have spent eight years lying about the Affordable Care Act in attempts to repeal it, and President Trump has spent a year trying to repeal or sabotage it at every turn. Despite this, millions of people overcame the attempts to disrupt open enrollment and signed up for coverage, voters approved ballot measures supporting Medicaid expansion in Oregon and Maine, and when Democrats won big on election day in November health care was the major reason why.

“The reason for the ACA’s increased popularity is simple: it works. People support the ACA because it bars discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions and bans lifetime limits on care; they support the ACA because it covers essential medical care, like maternity care and prescription drug coverage; and they support the ACA because it gives them an opportunity to live their lives without fear that a medical emergency can come along and leave them at the whims of insurers, as was the case for far too long. Americans recognize the GOP’s health care sabotage is already expected to raise their premiums 20% next year. People want reforms that lower costs, not sabotage and repeal which raise them, and President Trump and Congressional Republicans would be well-served to finally listen to the Americans who continue to make their voices heard loud and clear. Enough is enough – it’s time for the GOP to end their war on health care.”

New Poll: Health Care Far-And-Away Top Issue Among Voters

A new poll from CNN finds that health care remains voters’ top priority, with 83% of those surveyed listing it as either extremely or very important, the highest percentage recorded in the poll dating back to 2002. The new numbers echo Protect Our Care/Hart Research polling conducted last month.

Key CNN results include:

  • 83% of voters said health care was extremely important or very important, the highest among all issues.
  • 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.

“No matter how much the GOP wishes health care would go away, results like today make clear that this is the top issue for American voters,” said Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse. “Health care is energizing voters of all backgrounds, the majority of whom are furious about the GOP’s sabotage attempts, and Republicans only have themselves to blame. Enough is enough: it’s time for Republicans to end their war on health care.”

Just last week, Save My Care launched a national “Enough is Enough” ad campaign with a six-figure national TV and digital ad buy. The campaign encourages Americans to call on Congress to end the partisan war on health care.

Across the Nation, Health Care Advocates Urge Senators to Stand Up Against President Trump’s Partisan War on Health Care

This week, health care advocates in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia launched the Enough is Enough campaign to tell their Senators that the GOP war on health care and attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act must end.

The “Enough is Enough” effort is part of a multi-pronged national and local campaign to end the partisan war on health care with a clear message: protecting Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act is now a potent and positive issue in American politics. While Congress was in recess this week, health care advocates held Enough is Enough events across multiple states, featured TV, digital, and print advertising all along with a robust social media campaign and grassroots activity.  

From the polls that show health care is the number one issue for midterm voters, to the momentum in favor of Medicaid expansion in states like Maine and Virginia, to the success of candidates in race after race who are speaking out to defend the ACA, Medicaid, and CHIP – Americans are telling lawmakers: ”Enough is enough. Stop the partisan war on health care.”


Below is a sampling of activity in the states:









West Virginia

“The Cost for their Rage Will be the Health of Millions”: Editorial Boards Respond to Trump’s Latest Sabotage

Last week, the Trump Administration announced its latest move to sabotage the Affordable Care Act: short-term, junk health plans. These plans will be allowed to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and eliminate guarantees that essential services like maternity and cancer care be covered. The new junk plans would leave people who get sick on the hook for substantial medical bills and destabilize the individual insurance marketplaces by encouraging insurers to cherry-pick who gets covered.

But don’t just take our word for it – here’s what the country’s leading editorial boards are saying:

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… If the administration were actually serious about reducing health care costs, it would try to improve the A.C.A., not dismantle it, [working with Congress to offer subsidies to middle-class families or pushing for the creation of a national reinsurance program that encourages insurers to offer policies at lower costs by protecting against steep losses]. But Mr. Trump and his Republican allies in Congress seem unwilling to pursue constructive health care policies because they are obsessed with undoing Obamacare. Regrettably, the cost for their 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. The vast majority of the people who shop in the Obamacare exchanges are low- to moderate-income Americans who receive federal subsidies; when premiums go up, their subsidies rise to cover the increase. That’s just one of the wrongheaded aspects of the proposal. The way to reduce premiums in that market is to pool risks more broadly by bringing more healthy people in. But seemingly every step the administration and Congress have taken lately has drawn healthy people out of the exchanges. This includes ending the requirement that virtually all Americans obtain insurance (as of 2019) and letting loosely defined associations offer plans that, like the temporary policies, don’t comply with Obamacare. This nasty trend is likely to continue until voters make it stop.” [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, in which it expands the short-term insurance plans that are exempt from Affordable Care Act standards. In one stroke, it found a way to make virtually useless plans more available for healthy people while making insurance that actually covers the treatments and services needed by people who are or could become sick more expensive. 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. “The Trump administration’s latest strike on the Affordable Care Act is to expand the availability of so-called short-term health insurance. 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, and should plan for this immediately by strengthening their own regulations. They should 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]

Protect Our Care Fact Sheet: Stabilization Negotiators Must Reject High-Risk Pools

After USA Today reported that Senate health care stabilization negotiators are discussing bringing back high-risk pools, Protect Our Care is releasing a fact sheet detailing why this approach won’t work, as well as a statement from Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse:

“Health care advocates continue to call for a bipartisan stabilization package to address the individual insurance market damage being caused by Trump Administration sabotage. Any serious proposal must reject bringing back high-risk pools, failed experiments that segregate sick people in worse coverage and that would further destabilize the markets.

“It’s time for Congressional Republicans to reject the partisan war on health care, stop pushing proposals that hurt people with pre-existing conditions, and start working with Democrats to come up with real solutions that bring down health care costs for American families.”


Stabilization Negotiators Must Reject Higher Costs & Coverage Restrictions for People With Pre-Existing Conditions

As Congressional negotiators consider health care stabilization proposals to include in next month’s Omnibus, overwhelming evidence shows that high-risk pools are one idea they should take off the table. This is a tool that has been tried and failed. Here’s why high risk pools would make challenges in American health care worse, not better:


Premiums For Coverage In High Risk Pools Were As Much As 200 Percent Higher Than The Average Rate But Covered Less Care. “High-risk pool enrollees faced substantially higher premiums than people in the normal individual market, often by as much as 150 percent to 200 percent, although some pools did offer subsidies to low-income enrollees…And stunningly, the overwhelming majority of state high-risk pools actually refused to pay for services associated with a patient’s pre-existing conditions in the first months of their enrollment.” [Center for American Progress, 2/16/17]

Deductibles For High Risk Pool Enrollees Were Well Above Maximum Allowed By ACA. ”Fourteen states had plans with deductibles of $10,000 per year or higher, substantially greater than the current maximum $7,150 deductible for catastrophic plans in the marketplaces. Thirty states imposed maximum lifetime limits; others had annual coverage limits as low as $75,000 per year.” [Commonwealth Fund, 3/29/17]

  Source: Commonwealth Fund, 3/24/17


Despite High Premiums, High Risk Pools Could Still Cost The American People Over $90 Billion Annually. “The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently estimated that up to 17,875,000 people with preexisting conditions were uninsured in 2010. Had all of them been covered by high-risk pools, the cost would have been $194.8 billion in 2010 dollars, with premiums covering only $103.3 billion. Thus, states and the federal government would have needed to find $91.5 billion in additional funding to cover them all—much more than the up to $10 billion per year in federal assistance to states recently proposed by congressional Republicans.” [Commonwealth Fund, 3/29/17]

An Analysis Of High Risk Pools Under The ACHA Finds Such Pools Would Cost The Government Between $37 and $56 Billion Annually. “Government costs for supporting the high-risk pool using ACA-like coverage and subsidies would range from $37 to $56 billion in 2020 and $437 to $656 billion over 10 years (2020–2029), depending upon the eligibility rules used.” [The Urban Institute, May 2017]

Even Conservatives Estimated High Risk Pools Would Cost $15-$20 Billion Annually. “For comparison, conservative experts James Capretta and Tom Miller have estimated that $15 billion to $20 billion per year, or $150 billion to $200 billion over 10 years, would be needed to fully finance high-risk pools even if they covered only 2 million to 4 million people.” [Center For American Progress, 2/16/17]

Premiums For High Risk Pool Coverage Paid Just 53 Percent Of Program Costs. “Premiums ranged from 125 percent to 200 percent of average premiums in the individual market, yet covered only about 53 percent of claims and administrative costs nationally (Wisconsin allowed premiums up to 200 percent of average).” [Commonwealth Fund, 3/29/17]


High Risk Pools Typically Had Pre-Existing Condition Exclusions And Limited Benefits. Many such pools had pre-existing condition exclusion periods, limited benefits, and enrollment limits; all of these characteristics served to reduce the value of the coverage, creating high financial burdens for enrollees and limiting the number of people who could access the coverage.” [Health Affairs, 3/15/16]

Most State High Risk Pools Had Lifetime And Annual Limits On Coverage.  “Thirty-three pools [out of 35 states] imposed lifetime dollar limits on covered services, most ranging from $1 million to $2 million. In addition, six pools imposed annual dollar limits on all covered services while 13 others imposed annual dollar limits on specific benefits such as prescription drugs, mental health treatment, or rehabilitation.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/22/17]

High Risk Pools Typically Had Waiting Periods. “There were 35 state high-risk pools before the Affordable Care Act passed. To control costs, they would often do things like charge higher premiums than the individual market. Most had waiting periods before they would pay claims on members’ preexisting conditions, meaning a cancer patient would need to pay premiums for six months or a year before the high-risk pool would cover her chemotherapy treatments.” [Vox, 5/3/17]

High Risk Pools Mean Delayed Or Forgone Care. “Even once they were in a high-risk pool, the high costs and limited benefits prompted some people to delay or forgo care, leading to poorer health outcomes and even more spending. And many families accrued substantial medical debt, even with the coverage.” [Stateline, 2/16/17]


Limited Coverage And High Costs Cause People To Remain Uninsured. Some patients also delayed care to save money, exacerbating their health conditions, and only entered the pools when their conditions became emergencies.” [Stateline, 2/16/17]

CMS: One-Third Of Uninsurable Were Unable To Afford High Risk Pool Coverage. A 2004-05 study by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that “nationally, high-risk pool premiums are above 25 percent of family income (i.e., are unaffordable) for 10 percent of all individuals, 18 percent of the uninsured, and 29 percent of the uninsurable. By these standards, almost one-third of the uninsurable are unable to afford high-risk pool coverage…” [CMS, Health Care Financing Review, Winter 2004-2005]


California High Risk Pool Led To Waiting Lists, High Premiums, And Lifetime Limits. “For example, California’s high-risk pool imposed a shorter-than-average, three-month waiting period before enrollees could receive treatment for pre-existing conditions—but also imposed a $75,000 annual limit on benefits along with a $750,000 lifetime limit. In addition, the state capped enrollment, resulting in long waiting lists of people unable to enroll; at the same time, the pool’s high premiums proved difficult for enrollees to afford, leading some to drop out.” [Center for American Progress, 2/16/17]

Premiums in Florida’s High Risk Pool Were Twice The Normal Rate. Many states starved high-risk pools of cash. Florida’s contained only about 200 people in 2011. Premiums were commonly twice the normal rate. Many states had enrolment caps, meaning that even people willing to fork over were not guaranteed coverage.” [The Economist, 1/16/17]

In Wisconsin, “Cancer Doesn’t Wait” For High Risk Pool Waiting Periods. “The benefit waiting periods used by Wisconsin’s and other states’ high-risk pools are a big concern for patient advocates and provider groups. ‘A six-month exclusionary period is a serious issue,’ said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, who also testified at the House hearing. ‘Cancer doesn’t wait.’” [Modern Healthcare, 2/13/17]

In Utah, High Risk Pools Were Limited In Size, And Offered Sub-Par, Delayed Coverage. “Stevenson said only 3,000 people signed up for Utah’s risk pool plan while 200,000 Utahns are signed up for insurance through Obamacare. ‘Utah’s past high risk pool plan had many limitations too,’ he said. People with pre-existing conditions had to wait six months before using their coverage. Pregnant women had a 10 month waiting period before they had any coverage for them or their baby. ‘The measure of success for a program is how many people it helps and if you are only covering 3,000 people and leaving tens of thousands uninsured, I don’t think that’s a good thing to go back to,’ he said.” [CBS KUTV, 3/9/17]

High Risk Pools Mean Higher Costs, Higher Uninsured, And Less Coverage. The reality is that high-risk pool coverage was prohibitively expensive and there is little evidence to suggest that the existence of such pools made coverage less costly for others in the individual insurance market. Without substantially more federal funding than currently proposed, these facts are not likely to change. People with preexisting conditions may have “access” to coverage, but most will not be able to afford it and those who can will face limited benefits and extremely high deductibles and out-of-pocket payments.” [Commonwealth Fund, 3/29/17]

Polling Roundup: The ACA Has Achieved Lasting Popularity & Republicans Have Been Hurt by Sabotage

Four polls over six weeks have reached the same conclusion: the Affordable Care Act has achieved lasting popularity, the electorate is aware of and angry about Republican health care sabotage, and these factors are making health care voters’ top priority. Here’s what the numbers say:

Last week, Public Policy Polling released its first national poll of the year, contrasting the rising popularity of the Affordable Care Act with the blame being leveled on President Trump’s sabotage:

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

Also last week, a Priorities USA memo found that President Trump’s handling of health care remains vastly unpopular, especially among independent voters:

  • On the policy of health care, Donald Trump has a 34/46 favorable/unfavorable message.
  • On his handling of drug pricing, 60% of voters have major concerns, including 71% among independents.

These two polls come on the heels of a January Washington Post/ABC News poll which asked Americans about the policies taking precedent during President Trump’s time in office and found that Americans are most united in opposition to the GOP’s health care agenda:

  • Asked if keeping “Obamacare” was a good thing for the country, 57 percent of respondents said yes – a significantly higher percentage than any other policy. Meanwhile, just one policy was underwater: the Republican tax scam, which kicked millions of people off of their insurance and was opposed 46% – 34%.

And all of these polls follow a Hart Research memo which found that health care is the number one issue among voters, far exceeding anything else in terms of driving voting preferences. A majority of those surveyed expressed strong disapproval for the health care policies pushed by the GOP:

  • “Healthcare far exceeds any other issue as an important driver of voting preferences, with over half of all voters identifying healthcare as one of their top priorities in the 2018 congressional elections, with 54% of those surveyed choose health care as one of the two issues that will be the most important to them in deciding how to vote for Congress.”
  • Healthcare is the most frequently cited priority among Democrats (68%), independents (54%), and Republicans (38%). It is particularly important to African-American voters (66%) and to white women voters, whether they are college graduates (62%) or non-college graduates (59%).

One poll can be an outlier, or two a coincidence, but four polls in six weeks independently highlighting the importance of health care and the contrast between the Affordable Care Act’s popularity and the GOP’s sabotage show just how important this issue is to the American people. From coast to coast, constituents are making their view abundantly clear: it’s time for the GOP to stop its war on health care, and there will be significant consequences should President Trump and Congressional Republicans fail to heed this advice.

“Short-Term Insurance Plans Don’t Cover Pre-Existing Conditions, Don’t Cover The ACA’s Essential Benefits, And Can Impose Annual Limits On Coverage”: A Reaction Roundup to the Trump Administration’s Latest Sabotage Attempt

Today, the Trump Administration announced a plan to let insurance companies sell short-term junk insurance year-round, ramping up its sabotage of the Affordable Care Act. These scam insurance plans don’t have to cover people with pre-existing conditions, re-impose lifetime caps, and don’t have to cover the essential medical benefits required by the Affordable Care Act, including maternity care and prescription drug benefits. Today’s proposal would weaken American health coverage, something nearly every major media outlet, health care expert, and stakeholder pointed out.

The coverage of President’s Trump’s latest effort to sabotage American health care is brutal. Take a look:

NBC News: “Trump Pushes Insurance That Doesn’t Cover Pre-Existing Conditions.” “The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it is moving to expand the use of low-budget temporary insurance, which could offer customers a cut-rate alternative to plans on the Affordable Care Act’s exchange, but undermine more comprehensive insurance for others… Unlike the ACA’s plans, they are not required to cover pre-existing conditions, cover specific treatments, or provide unlimited benefits. The plans are normally supposed to cover a brief lapse in coverage, but the order makes it easier to rely on them as primary insurance. Health experts say they’re likely to be cheaper, but they could raise premiums for patients who need comprehensive plans through Obamacare by siphoning away young and healthy customers into a separate market.” [NBC News, 2/20/18]

Washington Post: Short-Term Plans Next Part Of Trump Administration’s Plan To “Dismantle” Affordable Care Act. “The order is part of the administration’s strategy to circumvent parts of the sprawling 2010 health-care law — President Barack Obama’s primary domestic legacy — through executive actions. The moves are an alternate route given the Republican-led Congress’s inability last year to dismantle much of the law — although Trump is still urging lawmakers to try again, despite GOP Senate leaders’ reluctance.” [Washington Post, 2/20/18]

NPR: “Trump Administration Wants To Let Insurers Offer Plans With Fewer Benefits.” “The Trump administration wants to allow insurance companies to offer more policies that have limited health benefits and that can reject customers if they have pre-existing medical conditions.” [NPR, 2/20/18]

Kaiser Health News: Trump Administration Proposes Rule “That Can Reject People With Preexisting Medical Conditions.” “The new rule is expected to entice younger and healthier people from the general insurance pool by allowing a range of lower-cost options that don’t include all the benefits required by the federal law — including plans that can reject people with preexisting medical conditions.” [Kaiser Health News, 2/20/18]

Huffington Post: Plans Would Make “It More Difficult For People Who Need Or Want More Comprehensive Coverage To Get It.” “Taken together, the two steps ― getting rid of the mandate and then changing the rules on short-term plans ― could accelerate an evolution already underway for people buying insurance on their own, rather than through an employer… The new regulations would also render the law’s insurance reforms less effective, making it more difficult for people who need or want more comprehensive coverage to get it.” [Huffington Post, 2/20/18]

Reuters: “Another Trump Administration Move Aimed At Undercutting” The ACA. “The U.S. government on Tuesday proposed extending the availability of skimpy health insurance plans to millions of Americans in another Trump administration move aimed at undercutting the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare…The plans will not include the benefits that define the insurance created under Democratic former President Barack Obama, including required health benefits such as maternity coverage and the guarantee of insurance regardless of health.” [Reuters, 2/20/18]

Wall Street Journal: Plans “Allow Insurers [To] Charge Higher Premiums Based On A Consumer’s Health Status.” “The plans are often sold only to people who qualify as healthy and they may have annual limits on the amount of care they will cover. The plans don’t have to cover people with pre-existing conditions, for example, and insurers can charge higher premiums based on a consumer’s health status. They also don’t have to include benefits mandated by ACA plans such as prescription-drug coverage… Health analysts say the more extensive short-term plans that would be allowed under the latest proposal could appeal to healthier customers seeking less-expensive alternatives to ACA plans. Higher-risk people would be likely to remain in traditional insurance coverage, however. That would cause their premiums to rise because healthier consumers are needed on the ACA’s exchanges to offset the costs of older and sicker people.” [Wall Street Journal, 2/20/18]

New York Times: Plans “Offer Significantly Less Protection To Consumers.” “Short-term policies are intended for people who are between jobs or need temporary coverage for other reasons. They are generally cheaper than insurance that meets the law’s requirements, but they offer significantly less protection to consumers. Insurers often deny short-term policies to people with pre-existing conditions and can charge higher premiums because of such conditions. Short-term policies do not have to provide the ‘essential health benefits’ that are required by the Affordable Care Act. They may, for example, omit coverage of maternity care, mental health care or addiction treatment. Short-term policies may impose limits on the amount the insurer will pay, but they do not have to cap the patient’s out-of-pocket costs.” [New York Times, 2/20/18]

USA Today: “Trump Proposes 12-month Insurance Plans That Don’t Cover People, Issues Obamacare Requires.” “The Trump administration proposed Tuesday that people be allowed to buy short-term insurance plans that don’t cover the benefits — or people — required to be covered by the Affordable Care Act (ACA)… The ACA was designed to prevent some of the situations the new plans would create, critics said. They could deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, generally cover few benefits and can cap the benefits provided. The plans could also pull more healthy people out of the pool of people signing up for the ACA, and that could lead to higher premiums for those who remain and aren’t eligible for subsidies.” [USA Today, 2/20/18]

Bloomberg: “Trump Proposes Bigger Role for Skimpy Insurance, Undermining Obamacare.” “The Trump administration is proposing to expand the availability of short-term insurance plans, offering a cheaper health coverage option for consumers, while taking another step to undercut Obamacare… Combined with earlier moves by the Trump administration — such as ending the ACA requirement that all people buy health coverage or pay a fine — the latest proposals could result in higher costs or fewer options for individuals who still want to buy the more comprehensive Obamacare plans.” [Bloomberg, 2/20/18]

Politico: Trump Administration Pushing Plans “That Some Deride As ‘Junk Insurance.’” “The Trump administration is proposing to expand the availability of short-term health insurance plans that some deride as ‘junk insurance’ — an effort that could give consumers cheaper coverage options but undermine Obamacare’s marketplaces and popular protections for pre-existing medical conditions… Many health care experts fear expanding the availability of the health plans, which are exempt from Obamacare’s robust consumer protections, could further destabilize the law’s wobbly insurance markets. Critics say the plans offer just the illusion of coverage, and enrollees often don’t realize how limited their benefits are until it’s too late. Short-term plans maintain cheaper prices than traditional insurance by refusing coverage for pre-existing conditions, in some cases, and some medical services. Unlike Obamacare coverage, the short-term plans typically cap payouts, which could leave enrollees with catastrophic illnesses or injuries on the hook for huge medical bills.” [Politico, 2/20/18]

Talking Points Memo: Proposed Plans Represent “Further Gutting O’Care Market.” “Many health care experts and economists say the sale of these skimpy “junk insurance” plans will draw younger and healthier people out of Obamacare’s individual market, making the remaining risk pool older, sicker, less stable, and more expensive.” [Talking Points Memo, 2/20/18]

Vox: “Experts Anticipate [These] Changes Would Damage The Market.” By broadening the definition of short-term insurance, the Trump administration is opening more loopholes for more people to buy insurance outside the health care law’s marketplaces. In the eyes of the administration, this is fulfilling a campaign promise that President Trump made to give people relief from Obamacare… But experts anticipate those changes would damage the market for customers who are left behind. Because younger and healthier people are more likely to leave the markets and buy short-term insurance, leaving an older and sicker pool behind, the ACA markets are likely to face higher premiums. And some insurers might decide to leave the law’s markets altogether if the customers become too unhealthy and therefore too expensive.” [Vox, 2/20/18]

ThinkProgress: Trump Administration’s Latest Attack On Obamacare Would Cost Taxpayers Millions. “The administration is proposing to expand access to short-term health plans, which is intended to fill temporary gaps in coverage and provide some consumers with cheaper options because the plan’s coverage is limited. This is just the latest move to undermine the ACA, and it’ll cost the federal government anywhere between $96 to $168 million more every year.” [ThinkProgress, 2/20/18]

Stephanie Armour, Wall Street Journal: Short-Term Plans Will Mean Higher Premiums. “If the estimated 200,000 people leave exchanges for short term plans, average est. monthly premium goes from $649 to $718 on exchanges based on proposed rule.” [Twitter, 2/20/18]

Catherine Rampell, Washington Post: Short Term-Plans A “Recipe For Siphoning Off Health People And Unraveling The Individual Market.” [Twitter, 2/20/18]

Jonathan Cohn, Huffington Post:  “And Now, Another Effort To Undermine Aca Regulations.” [Twitter, 2/20/18]

Ana Marie Cox: “Another Awesome Thing To Be Doing In the Middle Of An Addiction Epidemic.” [Twitter, 2/20/18]

Norm Ornstein, American Enterprise Institute: “Disgraceful.” “Alex Azar at HHS now doing his part to sabotage Obamacare and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions, while taking healthy people out of risk pools and increasing premiums for others. Disgraceful.” [Twitter, 2/20/18]

Health care experts ripped the announcement, and previewed the extensive problems it would cause:

Mike Kreidler, Washington State Insurance Commissioner:If You Get Sick You May Not Be Able To Renew Your Coverage — There Are No Protections For People With Pre-existing Conditions. Maternity Care And Mental-Health Benefits Often Are Excluded.” [New York Times, 2/20/18]

Larry Levitt, Kaiser Family Foundation Senior Vice President:Short-Term Insurance Plans Don’t Cover Pre-Existing Conditions, Don’t Cover The ACA’s Essential Benefits, And Can Impose Annual Limits On Coverage.” “Short-term insurance plans don’t cover pre-existing conditions, don’t cover the ACA’s essential benefits, and can impose annual limits on coverage. The expansion of short-term health insurance plans is part of a strategy to create a parallel insurance market that does not comply with the ACA’s rules. Short-term insurance plans will cherry pick healthy people, leaving ACA-compliant plans to cover a sicker pool with higher premiums. With the expansion in short-term insurance plans, low-income people will be protected from higher premiums by subsidies. Middle-class people with pre-existing conditions will feel the full brunt of higher premiums.” [Twitter, 2/20/18]

Rachel Sachs, Health Law Professor: “The Government Will Spend Millions More To Provide Fewer People With Comprehensive Coverage.” “HHS projects this change will cost the government $96-$168 million more every year. So the government will spend millions more to provide fewer people with comprehensive insurance.” [Twitter, 2/20/18]

Loren Adler, Director of USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy:  “For Middle Class & Above, This Moves Individual Market Away From Providing Insurance, ↓ Costs For The Healthy, ↑ Them For The Sick. This Is A VERY Expensive Rule For Taxpayers.”  [Twitter, 2/20/18]

Robert Laszewski, Health Industry Consultant: Plans Will “Woe Unto Those Who Get A Condition And Have To Go Back Into Obamacare.” “If consumers think Obamacare premiums are high today, wait until people flood into these short-term and association health plans…The Trump administration will bring rates down substantially for healthy people, but woe unto those who get a condition and have to go back into Obamacare.” [Kaiser Health News, 2/20/18]

Robert Laszewski, Health Industry Consultant: “We’re Going To Have Two Different Markets, A Wild West Frontier Called Short-Term Medical…And A High-Risk Pool Called Obamacare.” [Kaiser Health News, 2/20/18]

Kevin Lucia, Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Project Director: “It Will Undermine The Individual Market Risk Pool.” [Kaiser Health News, 2/20/18]

Sarah Lueck, Center On Budget And Policy Priorities Health Policy Expert: Plans Mean “Making People With Pre-Existing Conditions Pay Premiums That Reflect Their Health Status.” “Something I learned from the proposed rule on short-term plans: ‘Actuarially fair’ apparently means, in this Administration, making people with pre-existing conditions pay premiums that reflect their health status.” [Twitter, 2/20/18]

Dania Palanker, Former National Women’s Law Center Senior Counsel For Health And Reproductive Rights: “Mental Health Crisis? Short-Term Plans Exclude Mental Health. Opioid Crisis? Short-Term Plans Exclude Substance Use Treatment. Maternal Mortality Crisis? Short-Term Plans Exclude Maternity Coverage.” [Twitter, 2/20/18]

Center On Budget And Policy Priorities: Short-Term Health Plans Would Raise Premiums In Individual Market, Undermine Market Reforms, And Expose More Consumers To Gaps And High Costs. “This would let a parallel market for skimpy plans operate alongside the market for comprehensive individual health insurance, exposing consumers to new risks and raising premiums for people seeking comprehensive coverage, especially middle-income consumers with pre-existing conditions.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2/20/18]

The announcement was also criticized by stakeholders, who know first-hand what such a proposal will mean for Americans’ health:

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Liver Foundation, American Lung Association, Arthritis Foundation, Consumers Union, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation, Leukemia And Lymphoma Society, Lutheran Services In America, March Of Dimes, National Health Council, National Ms Society, National Organization For Rare Disorders, United Way, World Wide Volunteers Of America: “The Proposed Rule Released Today Would Permit Insurance Companies To Offer Substandard Insurance Policies To Millions Of Americans… As Organizations Committed To Ensuring That Coverage Remains Affordable, Accessible, And Adequate For All Americans, We Cannot Support This Proposal. “The proposed rule released today would permit insurance companies to offer substandard insurance policies to millions of Americans. As drafted, the rule could result in the proliferation of lower-premium plans, known as ‘short-term limited duration’ plans that could exclude coverage for critically important health care services, charge individuals with pre-existing health conditions higher rates, increase deductibles, and place strict limits on benefits. These lower-premium plans are designed to draw younger and healthier individuals away from the individual marketplace – leaving them with inadequate coverage if they become ill or injured. Older and less healthy individuals that remain in more comprehensive plans will likely see their insurance premiums increase dramatically, making it even more challenging to secure the care they need and deserve. It will also create confusion for the American public about which types  of plans will cover the services they need – creating an opportunity for consumers to purchase plans that would leave them unknowingly underinsured. As organizations committed to ensuring that coverage remains affordable, accessible, and adequate for all Americans, we cannot support this proposal.” [Consumers Union, 2/20/18]

America’s Health Insurance Plans: “We Remain Concerned The Expanded Use Of Short-Term Plans Could Further Fragment The Individual Market, Which Would Lead To Higher Premiums For Many Consumers, Particularly Those With Pre-Existing Conditions.”While we are reviewing the proposed rule to understand its impact on the people we serve, we remain concerned that expanded use of short-term policies could further fragment the individual market, which would lead to higher premiums for many consumers, particularly those with pre-existing conditions.” [Twitter, 2/20/18]

American Cancer Society-Cancer Action Network: Plans Represent A Roll Back of Critical Patient Protections. “Short-term plans can deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, often cover very few benefits and can set caps on what limited benefits are provided. While these exemptions make these policies inexpensive, they also create plans with potentially inadequate coverage. Short-term plans are meant to be a bridge, not a substitute, for long-term meaningful coverage. Permitting plans to be renewed indefinitely would likely result in more people struggling with unexpected health care bills and insufficient insurance.” [ACS-CAN, 2/20/18]

Community Catalyst: Short-Term Plans Proposed by Trump Administration Would Roll Back Consumer Protections Enshrined in Affordable Care Act. “By giving insurance companies more leeway to sell plans that can skirt protections the ACA put in place specifically to ensure people with preexisting conditions such as cancer, asthma or diabetes wouldn’t be denied or priced out of coverage, President Trump is once again prioritizing politics over peoples’ health.” [Community Catalyst, 2/20/18]

Wisconsin Cancer Council: “Bottom Line: These Plans Do Not Have Protections Guaranteed.” “Bottom line: these plans do not have protections like guaranteed issue and bans on coverage limits, and may contribute to rising premiums for full coverage #ACA plans in the individual market, especially after the tax penalty goes away in 2019.” [Twitter, 2/20/18]

Today’s announcement represents the Administration’s latest salvo in their war on health care, and yet again it is the American people who will be the victims. These junk insurance plans would be another way for the Trump Administration and insurance companies to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and the benefits that millions of Americans have come to rely on. Enough is enough – it’s time for the Trump Administration to end its war on our health care.

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

It’s Back: President Trump’s Budget Seeks to Revive Health Repeal

To: Interested Parties

From: Leslie Dach, Campaign Chairman, Protect Our Care

Subject: It’s Back: President Trump’s Budget Seeks to Revive Health Repeal

Date: February 13, 2018


President Trump’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposal calls for the passage of the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill, the worst of the partisan repeal bills Congress considered last year. If you forgot – and who can blame you, there were a lot of repeal bills! – Graham-Cassidy was deemed “crueler and more cynical” than previous repeal proposals, in large part due to its draconian Medicaid cuts, and garnered just 24% approval before it died in the Senate without a vote. It was opposed by the American Medical Association, AARP, the American Cancer Society, insurers, physicians, faith leaders, nearly every medical and patient’s rights organization, a coalition representing all 50 state Medicaid directors, and Jimmy Kimmel – who analysts said had a “better grasp of health care policy” than the GOP senators who pushed the proposal.

Specifically, the Graham-Cassidy bill Trump wants to bring back would:

  • Take away coverage from 32 million Americans by 2027, with 15 million Americans losing their insurance and premiums increasing by 20 percent in the first year.
  • Gut Medicaid by imposing severe cuts and per-capita caps, forcing states to either raise people’s taxes or make draconian cuts to schools and other vital programs.
  • Raise costs on working- and middle-class families by eliminating financial assistance that helps pay for care. Graham-Cassidy ends premium subsidies, which help 9 million Americans pay for coverage, and Medicaid expansion, which has helped 15 million people get the care they need. These programs would be converted into a block grant and eventually zeroed out.
  • Remove protections for those with pre-existing conditions, with the Congressional Budget Office finding that many people with pre-existing conditions “might not be able to purchase coverage at all.”
  • Harm women’s health by preventing Medicaid enrollees from accessing preventive health and family planning services through Planned Parenthood.

In short, Graham-Cassidy would irreparably harm the American health care system, and the fact that President Trump still considers it a good option shows just how out of touch he is with the American people. The negative reaction to its inclusion have been swift:

New York Times Editorial Board: “It calls for (yet again) the repeal of the Affordable Care Act… Medicare and Medicaid, which benefit one-third of Americans, are targeted for cuts of hundreds of billions of dollars. If Congress adopted Mr. Trump’s proposal, millions of people would stand to lose health insurance.”

Planned Parenthood: “This year’s budget plan proposes sweeping changes that, if implemented, would radically reduce people’s access to health care and information through vital programs, especially for women. Whether or not Congress subscribes to the president’s priorities, the entire proposal is a blueprint for policymaking that the administration will no doubt use to advance its agenda.”

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network: “Eliminating the health insurance marketplace subsidies and transforming Medicaid funding into a per-capita cap or block-grant structure could leave millions of Americans unable to access critical health services. Medicaid serves as an essential safety-net for more than 2.3 million Americans with a history of cancer, including one-third of all pediatric cancer patients at the point of diagnosis.”

American Lung Association: “Over the past year, Americans have been hit by repeated public health crises, from devastating wildfires and deadly storms to an influenza epidemic. President Trump’s budget proposal would simply make things worse.

Initial news coverage of the budget proposal also focused on the havoc it would wreak in the American health care system:

Los Angeles Times: “The White House is doubling down on the repeal effort, calling for massive cuts to healthcare assistance in its 2019 budget … Cuts of this magnitude – which parallel repeal legislation pushed unsuccessfully by GOP congressional leaders last year – would likely leave tens of millions more Americans without health coverage, independent analyses have indicated.”

Washington Post: “On healthcare for low-income Americans, Trump’s budget calls for cutting federal Medicaid funding by $250 billion over the next 10 years, as the administration envisions passing a law ‘modeled closely’ on a Senate Republican proposal that failed last fall to repeal the Affordable Care Act…  Experts say the overall reduction in government spending would cost millions of Americans their health insurance.”

Wall Street Journal: “The budget proposal includes $68.4 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services, a 21% drop from the funding level enacted last year. The proposal would also revive a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and cut spending on Medicare and Medicaid. It calls for enactment of a law to scrap the ACA and instead give block grants to states to establish their own health systems, a plan modeled after GOP legislation that failed to pass last year.”

CNBC: The new budget proposal also would seek a rollback of Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid benefits to poor adults. Medicaid offers health coverage to primarily low-income people. Before Obamacare, most states either denied Medicaid coverage to people who did not have dependent children or set very low limits on how much a person could earn and still qualify for coverage.

Business Insider: “The budget contains cuts to funding for Medicare and other social safety net programs. During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly promised not to cut funding to these programs.”

USA Today: “The budget proposes repealing the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid and limiting the amount of money states receive for the jointly-funded health care program for the poor. It would also end after two years the private insurance subsidies for people who don’t get coverage through a government program or an employer, while giving states grants to develop their own programs.”

STAT News: “The proposals are a hodgepodge of relatively narrow policies that take aim at various parts of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. One would reduce the amount of money doctors and hospitals are reimbursed for hospital-administered drugs under Medicare Part B; another would let some states engage in more aggressive negotiation for drugs in their Medicaid programs. Others take aim at a drug discount program for hospitals and at seniors’ out-of-pocket spending.”

Since taking office last year, President Donald Trump and his Administration have carried out an unrelenting war on our health care with a goal of repealing the Affordable Care Act and gutting Medicaid. Trump has used his administrative powers to sabotage our health care and continue to beat the drum of partisan repeal of the increasingly-popular Affordable Care Act.

While the Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress want to keep up this war on health care in 2018, the American people are saying “Enough is Enough.” More than eleven million people signed up for coverage through HealthCare.gov despite all the sabotage efforts. The Affordable Care Act is more popular than it has ever been. And millions of people across the country made their voices heard at rallies, town halls and through calling their Member of Congress to fight these repeal efforts. The American people are right: enough IS enough – it’s time for President Trump and the GOP to end their war on our health care.