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Obamacare Archives — Page 5 of 18 — Protect Our Care

Idaho Republicans Attempt Illegal Health Care Sabotage

Washington, DC – In response to the news that Idaho intends to allow insurance companies to sell plans excluding essential health benefits mandated by the Affordable Care Act and again allow companies to discriminate against pre-existing conditions, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“With this proposal, Governor Butch Otter has put partisan politics and fealty to the insurance industry above the interests of the people of Idaho. This proposal opens the door for insurance companies to once again charge premiums based on Idahoans’ medical history, returning to the days of discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions. It also waives the Affordable Care Act requirement that insurers must cover essential health benefits, which include maternity care, prescription drug coverage and hospitalization. These consumer protections are not only critical components of the Affordable Care Act, they are among its most popular provisions. Since Republicans began their war on health care, election result after election result has shown the American people don’t want more restrictions on their health care. This move is cruel, short-sighted and illegal. If newly-confirmed HHS Secretary Alex Azar cares about health of the American people, as he claimed during his confirmation hearing, he must block Idaho’s attack against the law of the land, the Affordable Care Act.”

Protect Our Care to Susan Collins: Do You Stand With Lisa Murkowski or Ted Cruz?

This afternoon, the Washington Examiner reported that Ted Cruz is calling on Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act through reconciliation, a partisan process which will result in millions losing their coverage, increased premiums and weaker protections for pre-existing conditions.

Senator Ted Cruz: “The biggest unfinished task is Obamacare. We need to finish the job.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski publicly objected to this.

Senator Lisa Murkowski: “I don’t think we should be spending time trying to do repeal and replace of ObamaCare.”

Senator Collins, do you stand with Ted Cruz or Lisa Murkowski?

SENATE HEALTH CARE FIREWALL HOLDS: Murkowski to Cruz: Drop Obamacare Repeal

Washington, DC – Following Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski’s statement that Republicans should not revisit their failed Affordable Care Act repeal quest in 2018, Protect Our Care Campaign Chair Leslie Dach released the following statement:

“Senator Murkowski is right: Congressional Republicans need to move on from their war on health care and stop pushing partisan repeal bills. Enough is enough – it’s time for Republicans like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz to move on from their war on health care and start working on the bipartisan health care solutions that Americans want and deserve.”

Ted Cruz Vows to Continue the GOP War on Health Care. Will Other Republicans Go Along?

Washington, DC – Today, the Washington Examiner reported that Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told the paper in an interview that Republicans need to “finish the job” and repeal the Affordable Care Act through reconciliation, and that he has been meeting with GOP senators previously opposed to repeal. Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement in response: “Ted Cruz’s views on health care today are yet again wildly out-of-touch with the American public. Poll after poll has shown that the overwhelming majority of Americans prefer the Affordable Care Act over the GOP’s repeal agenda. Instead of listening to the American people and moving forward on bipartisan improvements to strengthen markets and lower premiums, however, Senator Cruz continues to push partisan repeal. It’s time to find out if other Republican senators agree with Ted Cruz that the GOP should continue its war on health care, the number one issue on voters’ minds an effort that will result in millions more losing their coverage, and leave everyone else with higher costs and weaker protections or if there is a better path forward. Will Senators like Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and John McCain succumb to pressure from the likes of Senator Cruz and lobbying from Senator Graham, further worsening the GOP’s standing with another secretive, partisan repeal process, or will they say enough is enough and call for an end to the GOP’s war on our health care?”

Protect Our Care Blasts Alex Azar Confirmation as HHS Secretary

Washington, DC – After the Senate voted to confirm Alex Azar as the Trump Administration’s Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement:

“As the victims of the Trump Administration’s war on health care keep piling up, Senate Republicans just confirmed Big Pharma lobbyist Alex Azar to become President Trump’s sabotage sidekick at HHS. Throughout his confirmation process, Azar lied about the Trump Administration’s Affordable Care Act sabotage while embracing the Republican agenda to take coverage from millions of Americans, raise costs for millions more and gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Even as Donald Trump and the GOP install an anti-ACA Big Pharma lobbyist to lead HHS, the American people continue to reject their harmful agenda. Nearly 9 million people signed up for HealthCare.gov coverage despite every obstacle this Administration threw at them, and the ACA is more popular than ever. Enough is enough – it’s time for the GOP to come to the table and work with Democrats on bipartisan measures to stabilize the marketplace and expand coverage, just as the American people have said they want. It’s time for Donald Trump, Alex Azar and Congressional Republicans to end their war on America’s health care.”

Oregon Becomes the Latest State to Reject the GOP’s War on Health Care

In response to the news that residents of Oregon approved Measure 101, a ballot measure which keeps in place a previously-passed legislative tax package to fund the state’s Medicaid expansion, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Tonight’s result shows that the American people are expressing vehement opposition to the Republican war on our health care. Oregon Republicans worked to put Measure 101 on the ballot, which could have denied health care to thousands of their fellow citizens; instead, Oregonians resoundingly defeated the Republican attempt to jeopardize funding for Medicaid expansion, showing yet again that voters value critical health care programs and reject Republican attempts to sabotage them. This vote follows similar election results across the country, from Virginia to Wisconsin, where health care has played a decisive role in the defeat of Republicans. Voters from coast to coast continue to make their support for Medicaid clear – Republicans who continue sabotaging health care should be wary.”

New Washington Post/ABC News Poll: Health Care Remains Top Concern for Voters

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll asked Americans about the policies which took precedent during President Trump’s first year in office, and reached a key conclusion: Americans are most united about health care, and they are united in opposition to the GOP 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%.

This polling echoes results in a January Hart Research survey, which found that health care far exceeds any other issue as an important driver of voting preferences, with over half of all voters identifying health care as one of their top priorities in the 2018 congressional elections. A majority of those surveyed expressed strong disapproval for the health care policies pushed by the GOP:

And just last week in Wisconsin, voters made their voices heard at the polls that matter most — the ballot box — by electing pro-ACA Democrat Patty Schachtner, who defeated her Republican opponent by nine points in a district that supported Donald Trump by 17 points just 15 months ago. That win follows off-year November elections where voters’ support for health care swept Democrats to victory across the country.

The polling is clear and so are the electoral results: the GOP’s health care has never been less popular. If Republicans want to stave the wave in 2018, they must abandon their sabotage-and-repeal health care agenda.

President Trump’s First Year: A War on Women’s Health

TO: Interested parties

FROM: Marjorie Connolly, Communications Director, Protect Our Care

RE: President Trump’s First Year: A War on Women’s Health

DATE: January 19, 2018

A year after the historic Women’s March on Washington, the millions who mobilized against President Trump’s anti-women agenda have seen their worst fears justified. Over the past twelve months, the Trump Administration and its Republican allies in Congress have launched attack after attack on women’s access to health care in parallel with Republicans’ war on American health care.

The Republican war on women’s health care is real and ongoing. Over the past twelve months, the Trump Administration’s actions to undermine Affordable Care Act protections and the Republican Congress’s repeated attempts to roll back women’s right to make their own health care decisions have created a perfect storm of harmful anti-woman policies.

Here’s how Republicans worked to wind back the clock on American women’s health care during Trump’s first year in office:

Defunding Planned Parenthood: Just today, the Trump Administration rolled back Obama-era guidance that warned states not to carve Planned Parenthood out of their Medicaid providers, signaling support for state efforts to place even higher barriers in the way of women’s access to health care. The Republican health repeal bills in Congress also got rid of federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Taking direct aim at birth control: The Trump Administration’s proposed rule to let any employer opt out of offering health insurance that covers birth control rolls back the Affordable Care Act’s guarantee that women may access copay-free contraception.

Pushing Medicaid cuts that hurt women the most: Women make up almost two-thirds of the Americans projected to lose Medicaid coverage because of the Trump Administration’s push for states to impose work requirements. That’s because women are more likely to hold jobs that do not offer health coverage or to take on primary caregiver duties for other family members.

Stacking federal courts with anti-choice judges: For the next generation, American women will face the threat posed by an increasingly anti-choice federal judiciary. 12 of Trump’s judicial nominees were appointed to circuit courts during his first year – more than any other first-year president in American history.

Reversing progress against breast cancer: Republicans’ repeated attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefits threaten landmark progress in women’s preventive health. New research this week finds that the Affordable Care Act requirement that plans (including Medicare) must cover recommended preventive care without a copay led to a significant increase in the number of women receiving mammography screenings.

Allowing insurers to once again charge women more: The Trump Administration’s recent proposed rule expanded Association Health Plans, which would allow plans to skirt some of the Affordable Care Act’s key protections. Under the rule, plans would be able to charge people more based on gender.

Raising costs on women for maternity care: The Republican health repeal bills allowed states to opt of covering “essential health benefits,” such as maternity care, prescription drugs, and substance abuse treatment. As a result, women would have had to purchase that care separately, and therefore pay more. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that maternity care, for example, would cost women $1,000 more per month.

This Week in the War on Health Care — January 15-19, 2018

The week, as much of the focus in Washington shifted to DACA and negotiations in Congress over a continuing resolution, the Trump Administration continued its unprecedented assault on the American health care system.

While your attention was focused elsewhere, here’s a summary of what happened this week in sabotage:

ATTACKS ON MEDICAID

As the dust settled around the Trump HHS’s approval of Kentucky’s worst-in-the-nation Medicaid waiver, experts dug into the fundamental ways it signals an end to Medicaid’s legacy:

… and why we already know it won’t work, unless Governor Matt Bevin’s primary goal is to take away Kentuckians’ coverage (spoiler alert: it is):

As Margot Sanger-Katz notes: “Kentucky’s new Medicaid waiver will ask low-income people to jump over hurdles to keep their coverage. Evidence suggests that many will fail … Kentucky officials argue that the changes will give beneficiaries more dignity and promote personal responsibility. But they also estimate that around 100,000 fewer people will be enrolled in the program by the end of five years.”

Meanwhile, Republicans opened a new front in their war on Medicaid. Yesterday, Senator Ron Johnson held a sham hearing to try to smear Medicaid by blaming it for the opioid crisis — when in fact Medicaid is one of our most important tools to curb the epidemic. Fortunately, few were fooled:

  • Newsweek: “The Republican argument is flawed because the Medicaid expansion began in 2014, and opioid addiction was declared an epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011.”
  • Washington Post: “While conservatives have noted that overdose deaths are much higher among people inside the program than those outside it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they’ve not been able to prove Medicaid actually leads to opioid abuse.”
  • Los Angeles Times: “The Republican campaign against Medicaid could only make the opioid crisis worse. That’s because Medicaid pays for a huge proportion of opioid treatments, covering fully one-third of those with addiction problems … Johnson and his fellow Republicans in Congress seem determined to impose cuts on the program, even though the benefits it renders are crystal-clear. Wednesday’s hearing did achieve one benefit, for all that: It showed how threadbare their arguments are.”

ATTACKS ON EMPLOYER COVERAGE

On Monday, New York Times reported that the GOP’s next health care sabotage scheme will remove the requirement that employers of over 50 workers offer health coverage for their employees. Such a move could yank care away from millions more Americans, while increasing government spending:

“The Affordable Care Act was built on a framework of shared responsibility … If you get rid of the employer mandate, you will see people lose coverage from their employers.”

ATTACKS ON CRITICAL HEALTH PROGRAMS

Congressional Republicans released a Continuing Resolution proposal that continues their heartless strategy of using children’s health insurance as a bargaining chip. Their bill also attempts to delay Affordable Care Act taxation provisions that benefit big corporations, while ignoring critical expired programs that support essential providers. These include community health centers and hospitals that serve lower-income communities. Some of these critical provider systems are facing threats of closure due to the ongoing uncertainty caused by the Republican Congress..

As Politico reported, GOP Congressional leaders considered including the badly-needed funding – then decided not to:

Knowing the vote is close, Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and other GOP leaders debated on Wednesday morning whether to add more provisions to the package, such as funding for community health centers. In the end, they decided to move ahead with the package as is.

As this week’s CR brinksmanship showed, Republicans continue to prioritize partisan politics over their constituents’ health care.

SABOTAGE TAKES A TOLL

On Tuesday, Gallup found that America’s uninsured rate jumped during Trump’s first year in office for the first time in a decade, causing 3.2 million Americans to lose their care.

If this week’s news is any indication, that number could climb as the Republican war on health care continues into 2018.

“It Showed How Threadbare [Republicans’] Arguments Are”: What Happened At Sen. Ron Johnson’s Opioids Hearing Today

This morning, Sen. Ron Johnson held a hearing at his Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee ostensibly to discuss the opioid epidemic. Instead, it quickly delved into a showing of right-wing talking points, falsely claiming that Medicaid expansion – ensuring more access to health care – is causing this epidemic.

What are the problems with this Republican theory?

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

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

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

Do Republicans pushing this theory have any actual evidence to back it up?

Washington Post: “They’ve Not Been Able To Prove Medicaid Actually Leads To Opioid Abuse. On The Contrary, [Medicaid Expansion] Has Given More Americans Access To Addiction Treatment.” “So, who’s right here? There’s little data to draw from, since Medicaid was expanded only recently under the ACA. But while conservatives have noted that overdose deaths are much higher among people inside the program than those outside it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they’ve not been able to prove Medicaid actually leads to opioid abuse. On the contrary, as Medicaid advocates note, expanding the program to include childless adults earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level has given more Americans access to addiction treatment. The program, which provided coverage to 3 in 10 people dealing with opioid addiction in 2015, covers outpatient treatment and inpatient detoxification, among other services, for substance use disorder.” [Washington Post, 1/17/18]

Could this theory lead to drastic conclusions which are squarely at odds with public health?

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

What did the hearing accomplish?

Los Angeles Times: Wednesday’s Hearing “Showed How Threadbare [Republicans’] Arguments Are.” “The Republican campaign against Medicaid could only make the opioid crisis worse. That’s because Medicaid pays for a huge proportion of opioid treatments, covering fully one-third of those with addiction problems. Most of that spending is in expansion states — in fact, it’s possible that the prevalance of opioid addiction in some states may have helped prompt them to accept expansion (another example of how the relationship between addiction and Medicaid may have been misread). The necessity of continuing Medicaid expansion to address the opioid crisis was made forcibly by Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, both Republicans, last year when congressional Republicans were working hard to eviscerate the program. Johnson and his fellow Republicans in Congress seem determined to impose cuts on the program, even though the benefits it renders are crystal-clear. Wednesday’s hearing did achieve one benefit, for all that: It showed how threadbare their arguments are.” [Los Angeles Times, 1/17/18]

Ultimately then, why did this hearing take place?

Newsweek: Sen. Johnson “Read An Article In Commentary, A Neoconservative Magazine.” “But in the end, even Senator Johnson acknowledged that the purpose of the hearing was a bit baffling. ‘People may be scratching their heads saying, ‘Why is Department of Homeland Security holding a hearing on the opioid crisis and Medicaid?’’ he said at the beginning of the meeting. He went on to explain that he had read an article in Commentary, a neoconservative magazine, that piqued his interest on the topic and asked his staff to compile a report and schedule a hearing on the topic.” [Newsweek, 1/17/18]

Most importantly, does this theory have the potential to cause significant damage to a population in urgent need of care?

Vox: “Republicans May Be In Fact Undermining A Potential Solution To The Overdose Crisis.” “Other evidence, meanwhile, suggests that Medicaid could actually act as a solution to the opioid crisis — because Medicaid, by expanding access to addiction treatment, could help stem the tide of addiction and overdose deaths. So by using this new hearing and report to potentially attack Medicaid, Republicans may be in fact undermining a potential solution to the overdose crisis.” [Vox, 1/17/18]

So there you have it. While millions of Americans struggle with the scourge of opioid addiction, and the White House leaves this epidemic in the hands of a lying, underqualified 24-year-old, Sen. Johnson continues to pontificate right-wing talking points he read in a magazine. Perhaps moving forward he’ll listen to the experts instead of pushing forward a false, ideologically-driven narrative that harms Americans.