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Pennsylvania Archives — Protect Our Care

As Trump Comes to Erie: Lou Barletta and Mike Kelly Are Two Peas In A Pod Trying to End Health Care

Washington DC – As President Trump prepares to stump for Congressional Republicans tonight in Erie, Pennsylvania, Reps. Lou Barletta and Mike Kelly are hard at work sabotaging health care. But after two years with Donald Trump in the White House and the GOP controlled Congress, a new report shows Pennsylvanians are still struggling to keep up with the rising costs of health care and prescription drug prices. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement ahead of Trump’s campaign appearance:

 

“Let’s be clear, Lou Barletta and Mike Kelly aren’t focused on the millions of hard-working Americans with pre-existing conditions, they are only focused on lining the pockets of big insurance companies and continuing their war against our health care. Mike Kelly himself said it’s a ‘business proposition’ for insurance companies to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions and Lou Barletta refuses to stand up against Trump’s lawsuit to gut protections for pre-existing conditions. Barletta and Kelly are two peas in a pod, breaking promise after promise when it comes to lowering out-of-pocket costs and protecting our health care. Pennsylvanians are rightfully angry about their record.”

 

Additional Background:

 

Lou Barletta and Mike Kelly’s Record On Health Care are In Conflict with Their Constituents’ Wishes

 

Barletta and Kelly Voted to Repeal The ACA And Its Protections For 5.3 Million Pennsylvanians with Pre-Existing Conditions Numerous Times

 

  • Barletta Boated Of Voting More Than 30 Times To Repeal The ACA.  “Even though the United States Supreme Court said the president’s healthcare law is a constitutional law, that doesn’t mean it is a good law.  The decision was a victory for big government and a defeat for individual freedom. Since being sworn in, I have voted to protect and strengthen seniors’ benefits by repealing the president’s healthcare law over thirty times.” [Barletta.House.Gov, accessed 10/3/18]
  • Kelly Said His Goal Was “Full Repeal.”  “Representative Kelly and House Republicans have tackled ObamaCare on all fronts and share the same end goal: full repeal.” [Kelly.House.Gov, accessed 9/24/18]


Barletta and Kelly Voted For The AHCA, Which Would Eliminate Protections for Pre-Existing Conditions and Increase Premiums.

 

  • 2017: Barletta and Kelly Voted For AHCA.  Barletta voted for passage of the American Health Care Act.  [HR 1628, Roll Call Vote #256, 5/4/17]

 

Mike Kelly Said That Insurers Should Be Able To Discriminate Against Pre-Existing Conditions Under AHCA Because “It Is A Business Proposition.” Mike Kelly: Pre-existing is very important to the people I represent back home. I understand that. I will fight for those things, but at the end of the day, at the end of the day, there is a business proposition that’s going to be put out there. Insurers are no different than any other business out there. You look at the market that you serve, you look at the people that you serve and you come up with different plans. So there’s not a one size fits all. And certainly for younger people and healthy people, they say why should I be taxed with all these increases? When you say, look, it’s in the whole. In the whole, how are we going to get there? It is a business. It is a business proposition.” [“CNN Newsroom,” CNN, 5/1/17]

 

Barletta Refused To Oppose The Trump Administration’s Lawsuit To Strip Protections For People With Pre-Existing Conditions.  “Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, who’s running against Casey in the fall Senate race, would not comment on the court fight but said he’d support bills to protect that coverage. ‘Regardless of what happens here, there has to be a plan that makes sure that there’s coverage for pre-existing conditions. We can’t leave them out without any insurance,’ Barletta told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 during a campaign stop in Beaver County.” [WTAE, 8/8/18]

 

How Their Votes Would Harm People in Pennsylvania

 

Total Repeal of the ACA Would Eliminate:

What would full repeal of the Affordable Care Act eliminate?

  • Protections for 5.3 million Pennsylvanians with pre-existing conditions, if they buy coverage on their own
  • Improvements to Medicare, including reduced costs for prescription drugs
  • Allowing kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26
  • Ban on annual and lifetime limits
  • Ban on insurance discrimination against women
  • Limits on out-of-pocket costs
  • Medicaid expansion, currently covering 15 million people
  • Rules to hold insurance companies accountable
  • Small business tax credits
  • Marketplace tax credits and coverage for up to 363,000 Pennsylvanians.

 

The American Health Care Act weakens key protections of the Affordable Care Act by allowing states to let insurers charge people with pre-existing conditions more, among other provisions. The bill would also make it more likely insurers would cherrypick young and healthier people, causing costs to skyrocket for older, sicker people.

 

The American Health Care Act allowed states to eliminate community rating, meaning insurers would be able to charge people with pre-existing conditions more. This surcharge could be in the tens of thousands of dollars and even six figures: up to $4,270 for asthma, $17,060 for pregnancy, $26,180 for rheumatoid arthritis and $140,510 for metastatic cancer.

 

In Pennsylvania, AHCA would mean that in in 2026, 777,000 Pennsylvanians would lose coverage and 51,586 Pennsylvanians to lose their jobs by 2022.

 

 

 

Attorney General Josh Shapiro, State Senator Hughes, State Representative Briggs, and Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper Join Pennsylvanians with Pre-Existing Conditions to Demand that Republicans #ProtectOurCare

“Care Force One” Makes Stops in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Erie on National Bus Tour

(Washington, DC) – Today,  Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour finished its drive through the Keystone state with stops in Harrisburg, featuring State Sens. Vincent Hughes and Stacie Ritter and State Rep. Tim Briggs; Pittsburgh, featuring Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro; and Erie, featuring County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper, who joined Pennsylvanians with pre-existing conditions to speak out against the devastating repercussions of health care repeal.

You can watch the Harrisburg event here.

You can watch the Pittsburgh event here.

You can watch the Erie event here.

The events were part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour calling attention to Republicans’ attempts to sabotage health care, including a lawsuit that would gut protections for Pennsylvanians with pre-existing conditions.

The 5,329,500 Pennsylvanians living with a pre-existing condition would be in jeopardy if a judge sides with President Trump and the GOP in their lawsuit.

“The Affordable Care Act has expanded coverage for millions of Pennsylvanians, especially those living with pre-existing conditions, and I will do everything in my power to protect that coverage.  It is a dereliction of duty for Attorney General Sessions to refuse to defend the constitutionality of the ACA in the Texas v. Azar case. He is wrong, both morally and on the law, and I refuse to allow Pennsylvanians to be bound by the results in that case,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “Now more than ever, we need our elected officials to stand up and defend the protections created by the ACA.”

“I fought to make sure that young people could stay on their parents’ insurance until they turn 26 when I was in Congress,” said County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper. “I’ve continued advocating for access to quality, affordable health care as County Executive, and actions by leaders in Washington to shrink access and make health insurance even more expensive for Pennsylvanians is disturbing. Enough is enough – stop threatening protections for Pennsylvanians with pre-existing conditions and raising prices on hardworking Americans.”

In Harrisburg, Senator Hughes and Ritter were also joined by State Representative Tim Briggs, Robin Stelly with Pennsylvania Health Action Network (PHAN), and Michael Simmons, who lives with pre-existing conditions and talked about the protections provided to him under the Affordable Care Act.

“Preserving the protections from the Affordable Care Act is one of my top priorities,” State Senator Vincent Hughes said. “Not only were we able to expand Medicaid in the Keystone state, but we saw a dramatic increase in insured individuals. I don’t want to give up that progress and force those in need, especially people with pre-existing conditions, to be without the critical services they must have to survive.”

“The Affordable Care Act drastically expanded coverage to millions of Pennsylvanians and created important consumer protections to prevent discrimination against those living with a pre-existing condition,” said State Representative Tim Briggs. “As Chair of the House Health Committee, I’m committed to protecting the ACA and all that it’s done to improve health care for Pennsylvanians.”

“When you become a parent, you don’t always think about what could happen to your kids until they’re in the hospital. My twin daughters were diagnosed with cancer, and I remember thinking ‘what are the odds?’” said Stacie Ritter. “Going forward, the pre-existing condition protections in the Affordable Care Act will let them lead healthy and productive lives.”

“Not only am I small business owner, but I’m also a cancer survivor. If the ACA disappears, I’ll lose my coverage,” said Michael Simmons of Lancaster. “I couldn’t get individual insurance before the ACA was passed, and I definitely wouldn’t be able to afford insurance if it went away. Protections for people with pre-existing conditions made sure that insurance companies couldn’t turn me away or charge me more just because I had a pre-existing condition.”

In Pittsburgh, Attorney General Shapiro was joined by Dr. Geoffrey Ruben; Erin Gabriel, the mother of children with pre-existing conditions; Nurse Michelle Boyle; Liz Klie, of Planned Parenthood; Lisa Frank, with the SEIU; and Joe DiFazio, a Pennsylvanian living with a pre-existing condition.

Dr. Geffrey Ruben said: “I’ve been an emergency physician for more than 30 years, and I’ve seen firsthand how devastating exclusions for pre-existing conditions was for patients. And I have seen just how beneficial the ACA has been for patients and their families. We need leaders in Washington that will stand up for all Pennsylvanians – especially those many, otherwise productive individuals with pre-existing conditions.”

“Medicaid gave my little girl the ability to swallow and eat, to walk, even to make friends. Medicaid has filled the many gaps in her private insurance, and the protections provided in the ACA for pre-existing conditions and prohibitions on lifetime caps has meant that my daughter can still be covered by insurance,” said Erin Gabriel, also at the Pittsburgh event and a mom to three children with special needs. “Abby now uses hearing aids and glasses, a wheelchair, a speech generating device, custom made braces for her feet, braces for her wrists, and a seizure monitoring device on her wrist. All of them paid for by a combination of our private insurance and Medicaid. All of which could be denied to her if we didn’t have the protections of the ACA.“

“My mother-in-law died at the age of 58 from a treatable chronic disease before the ACA was passed,” said Michelle Boyle. “She was denied insurance because she had a pre-existing condition and couldn’t afford the necessary care and treatment. During my career, I’ve met so many patients that gained health care coverage because of the protections for pre-existing conditions. I’m thankful the ACA created these rules so no one has to experience the tragedy that my family did.”

Liz Klie with Planned Parenthood stated “The ACA has been the greatest legislative advancement in a generation for women. The ACA has brought 62 million women access to no cost birth control, lifesaving screenings and other preventive health services and it ended insurers ability to charge more for coverage based simply on being a woman or having a pre-existing condition.”

“The Affordable Care Act expanded care to millions of Pennsylvania’s workers and protected them from discrimination by health insurance companies,” said Lisa Frank with SEIU. “If lawmakers and courts roll back the ACA, our members and millions of Pennsylvanians will lose coverage and face significantly higher prices.”

“I’m self employed, and if it weren’t for the ACA, I either would be uninsured or I would have had to fold my business and taken whatever job I could that provided insurance,” said Joe DiFazio. “Before the ACA, Insurance companies turned me away because I had a very minor pre-existing condition. Since then, I developed a more serious medical condition, but with the ACA, I’m covered, and at the same reasonable cost as everyone else.”

In Erie County, County Executive Dahlkemper was joined by Tanya Teglo and Terri Hullihan, Pennsylvanians living with pre-existing conditions, who shared their stories and talked about the protections provided to them under the Affordable Care Act.

“Living with Cerebral Palsy has presented me with a unique perspective and a real understanding of why health care and Medicaid benefits are important and should be protected,” said Tanya Teglo while speaking about her pre-existing condition. She explained that, “without Medicaid and protections created by the ACA, it would be tremendously difficult for me to get the care that I need.”

“I got sick two decades ago while working at a company with great benefits, but my illness kept me from working, and I lost my job,” said Terri Hulihan. “But then the ACA was passed into law – including provisions that prevented insurance companies from discriminating against me for having two chronic illnesses – and I was able to get insurance again.”

“The stakes have never been higher for Pennsylvanians’ health care,” said TJ Helmstetter of Protect Our Care. “Since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, almost 479,000 Pennsylvanians have gained health insurance. This is all in jeopardy due to Republicans’ repeal and sabotage agenda. Pennsylvanians want this Republican war on health care to end, plain and simple. That’s why we’re here today.”

The bus now travels to Cleveland and onto Columbus for events on Friday. More details about upcoming stops can be found here.

Attorney General Shapiro Joins Doctors, Nurses and Pennsylvanians with Pre-Existing Conditions and Demands that Republicans #ProtectOurCare

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“Care Force One” Makes Stop in Pittsburgh on National Bus Tour

(Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) – Today, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro joined with doctors, nurses, SEIU, Planned Parenthood, and Pennsylvanians living with pre-existing conditions at the Pittsburgh City-County Building to speak out against the devastating repercussions of health care repeal. You can watch the full video here.

The event was part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour calling attention to Republicans’ attempts to sabotage health care, including a lawsuit that would gut protections for Pennsylvanians with pre-existing conditions.

The 5,329,500 Pennsylvanians living with a pre-existing condition would be in jeopardy if a judge sides with President Trump and the GOP in their lawsuit.

“The Affordable Care Act has expanded coverage for millions of Pennsylvanians, especially those living with pre-existing conditions, and I will do everything in my power to protect that coverage.  It is an abdication of duty for Attorney General Sessions to refuse to defend the constitutionality of the ACA in the Texas v. Azar case.  He is wrong, both morally and on the law, and I refuse to allow Pennsylvanians to be bound by the results in that case,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “Now more than ever, we need our elected officials to stand up and defend the protections created by the ACA.”

“I’ve been an emergency physician for more than 30 years, and I’ve seen firsthand how devastating exclusions for pre-existing conditions was for patients. And I have seen just how beneficial the ACA has been for patients and their families,” said Dr. Geoffrey Ruben. “We need leaders in Washington that will stand up for all Pennsylvanians – especially those many, otherwise productive individuals with pre-existing conditions.”

“Medicaid gave my little girl the ability to swallow and eat, to walk, even to make friends. Medicaid has filled the many gaps in her private insurance, and the protections provided in the ACA for pre-existing conditions and prohibitions on lifetime caps has meant that my daughter can still be covered by insurance,” said Erin Gabriel, a mom to three children with special needs. “Abby now uses hearing aids and glasses, a wheelchair, a speech generating device, custom made braces for her feet, braces for her wrists, and a seizure monitoring device on her wrist. All of them paid for by a combination of our private insurance and Medicaid. All of which could be denied to her if we didn’t have the protections of the ACA.”

Attorney General Shapiro, Erin, and Dr. Ruben were joined by Nurse Michelle Boyle, Liz Klie of Planned Parenthood, Lisa Frank with the SEIU, and Joe DiFazio – a Pennsylvanian living with a pre-existing condition.

“My mother-in-law died at the age of 58 from a treatable chronic disease before the ACA was passed,” said Michelle Boyle. “She was denied insurance because she had a pre-existing condition and couldn’t afford the necessary care and treatment. During my career, I’ve met so many patients that gained health care coverage because of the protections for pre-existing conditions. I’m thankful the ACA created these rules so no one has to experience the tragedy that my family did.”

Liz Klie with Planned Parenthood also participated in the press conference. “The ACA has been the greatest legislative advancement in a generation for women. The ACA has brought 62 million women access to no cost birth control, lifesaving screenings and other preventive health services and it ended insurers ability to charge more for coverage based simply on being a woman or having a pre-existing condition.”

“The Affordable Care Act expanded care to millions of Pennsylvania’s workers and protected them from discrimination by health insurance companies,” said Lisa Frank with SEIU. “If lawmakers and courts roll back the ACA, our members and millions of Pennsylvanians will lose coverage and face significantly higher prices.”

“I’m self employed, and if it weren’t for the ACA, I either would be uninsured or I would have had to fold my business and taken whatever job I could that provided insurance,” said Joe DiFazio. “Before the ACA, Insurance companies turned me away because I had a very minor pre-existing condition. Since then, I developed a more serious medical condition, but with the ACA, I’m covered, and at the same reasonable cost as everyone else.”

“The stakes have never been higher for Pennsylvanians’ health care,” said TJ Helmstetter of Protect Our Care. “Since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, almost 479,000 Pennsylvanians have gained health insurance. This is all in jeopardy due to Republicans’ repeal and sabotage agenda.  Pennsylvanians want this Republican war on health care to end, plain and simple. That’s why we’re here today.”

You can watch the full video here. The bus now travels to Erie for an event later today. More details about upcoming stops can be found here.

 

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Republicans At All Levels Face Fury from Their Constituents as the Coalition that Defeated Health Care Repeal Takes the Fight Local

As we head into the one-year anniversary of the Senate’s defeat of ACA repeal, Republicans are running scared of their own record, especially as Big Health Care CEO compensation soars on their watch.

Meanwhile, the coalition that defeated health care repeal is rising up to fight GOP sabotage at every level of government.

  • For a full month, Protect Our Care and its partners have continually sounded the alarm about Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, who is now opposed by 41 percent of Americans, the vast majority of whom do not want the Court to overturn protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
  • All week, the Protect Our Care coalition held events marking the anniversary of the Senate defeating repeal and highlighting continued threats to health care, and today Protect Our Care coalitions in Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Maine, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia are holding actions to ask their Republican attorneys general and governors to drop their lawsuit to overturn protections for people with pre-existing conditions in the Affordable Care Act.
  • Looking ahead to August, Protect Our Care coalitions across the country are gearing up to confront House Republicans during recess about the numerous votes they have taken to repeal protections for people with pre-existing conditions, jack up premiums, reduce coverage, and give kickbacks to insurance companies, drug companies, and the wealthy – while doing nothing to bring down the cost of prescription drugs.

With an energized grassroots representing the will of the public, according to poll after poll after poll after poll, it’s no wonder why Democrats are rising up to fight for health care. Just yesterday:

  1. Senate Democrats redoubled their commitment to fight tooth-and-nail to protect health care for all Americans, while marking the one-year anniversary of their defeat of Republicans’ effort to repeal the ACA.
  2. House Democrats introduced a resolution that would intervene to protect the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions from the GOP-Trump Administration lawsuit working to overturn protections for them.
  3. A coalition of 12 Democratic attorneys general filed a lawsuit to fight back against the Trump Administration’s revival of junk plans that charge money for poor coverage.

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Final Rates Confirm Pennsylvanians’ Insurance Is Getting Even More Expensive

Washington, D.C. – With final Pennsylvania rate filings for 2019 individual-market health insurance indicating an additional premium increase on top of last year’s 31 percent rate hike due to Washington Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage agenda, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, released the following statement:

“For the past year and a half, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have engaged in a deliberate, aggressive campaign to undermine health care and families in Pennsylvania are once again forced to pay the price. Until we stop Republicans’ war on health care, insurance companies will continue to make huge profits and enjoy record tax breaks from Republicans while they charge working families more and more. Washington Republicans should start working on bipartisan solutions to make coverage more affordable, instead of helping their friends in the insurance industry make another buck on the backs of hardworking Pennsylvanians.”

From Pennsylvania Officials:

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf: Increases Come Following “Trump Administration’s Relentless Efforts To Dismantle The ACA.” “Pennsylvanians want and deserve access to the comprehensive health coverage that the ACA provides. Enrollment over the past few years has remained steady, and this fall enrollees will have more choices, despite the Trump Administration’s relentless efforts to dismantle the ACA.” [Pennsylvania Department of Insurance, 7/23/18]

Pennsylvania Department Of Insurance: Small Increases Attributed To “The Department’s Efforts To Maintain Enrollment In The Individual Market,” Highlighted By An Outreach Campaign “To Make Up For Lack Of Marketing From The Federal Government.” “Altman attributes the minimal increases to Pennsylvania’s competitive market and the department’s efforts to maintain enrollment in the individual market despite the federal government’s efforts to shorten the ACA’s open enrollment period and curtail enrollment outreach, while working to achieve affordability for consumers. The Insurance Department launched an outreach campaign to make up for a lack of marketing from the federal government during the 2018 open enrollment season.” [Pennsylvania Department of Insurance, 6/5/18]

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman: “Ongoing Attempts And Recent Proposed Rules Being Considered At The Federal Level To Dismantle The ACA Still Have The Potential To Jeopardize Market Stability.” “However, the ongoing attempts and recent proposed rules being considered at the federal level to dismantle the ACA still have the potential to jeopardize market stability in future years and negatively impact health insurance consumers. We will continue to work to protect the progress we have made, including Pennsylvania’s lowest uninsured rate on record, and make affordability and access our top priorities for consumers.” [Pennsylvania Department of Insurance, 6/5/18]

Advocates Gear Up to Defend Health Care for Millions

Protect Our Care Coalition to Host Events Across the Country As Supreme Court Pick Looms

Enough Is Enough Poster

  • As President Trump prepares to make his Supreme Court announcement Monday, Americans from coast to coast are gearing up to make clear to their Senators that they must not vote against health care by voting for an extreme nominee who will use their position to attack our health care.
  • Protect Our Care is active in fourteen states, and our advocates have already scheduled events on Monday in Alaska, Arizona, Maine, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. We’ll be holding a rally at Monument Square in Bangor, Maine; a press conference in front of Sen. Bob Corker’s office in Nashville, Tennessee; and a press call with local leaders, health care advocates, and a former judge in Alaska.
  • President Trump and Congressional Republicans have spent the past 18 months waging a relentless war on our health care, with millions losing coverage, premiums increasing by double digits, and protections for people with pre-existing conditions eroding. But all of these pale in comparison to the damage that an extreme Supreme Court justice could do — read more to find out all that’s at stake for health care with this Supreme Court vacancy.

Protect Our Care’s national leaders and local advocates are available for on the record interviews. Please contact [email protected].

Protect Our Care Launches 130 Million Strong Month of Action

Washington, D.C. – The Protect Our Care coalition today launches “130 Million Strong Month of Action,” a campaign to warn Americans about escalating Republican attacks on Affordable Care Act-guaranteed protections for over 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. As the Trump Department of Justice asks the courts to take away these protections, the campaign will leverage earned and paid media as well as grassroots advocacy to highlight the true cost of letting insurance companies bring back discrimination.

“There are over 130 million Americans out there with pre-existing conditions who deserve to know that Republicans are trying to let insurance companies take away their coverage,” said Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse. “The Trump Department of Justice just declared war on people who have a history of diabetes, asthma, or cancer. This month, our coalition of health care advocates will be conducting an aggressive information campaign to make sure people know what’s at stake.”

The campaign launches this morning with a new digital ad targeted to 13 states: Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Watch Digital Ad

Protect Our Care is also rolling out 51 fact sheets this morning highlighting the impact residents would face in each state if the Trump Administration wins its case and takes away pre-existing condition protections, and dozens of events are set to take place across the country between now and Independence Day.

The Latest Victims of GOP Sabotage: Mainers, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, Washingtonians

Today, Mainers and Pennsylvanians became the latest Americans to see skyrocketing proposed 2019 individual marketplace premiums due to Washington Republicans’ ongoing sabotage, joining New Yorkers and Washingtonians, whose proposed double-digit rate increases were announced yesterday. As the Trump Administration and Congressional Republicans continue their repeal and sabotage campaign, Americans from coast to coast will continue to bear the unnecessary costs. Here’s how these rate hikes have been covered:

Portland Press-Herald: “Reasons Provided By The Insurers For Their Proposed Rate Increases Include The Elimination Of The Individual Mandate.” “Reasons provided by the insurers for their proposed rate increases include the elimination of the individual mandate penalty that was included in the federal tax reform bill approved by congressional Republicans in December and a resulting, anticipated decrease in younger, healthier Mainers purchasing individual ACA insurance in 2019.” [Portland Press-Herald, 6/5]

Ann Woloson, Consumers For Affordable Health Care Executive Director: “Efforts At The Federal Level To Sort Of Sabotage The Affordable Care Act Are Resulting In Unnecessary Increases.” The executive director of Consumers for Affordable Health Care, Ann Woloson, says any increase is bad news. ‘We’re already paying a lot. So the efforts at the federal level to sort of sabotage the Affordable Care Act are resulting in unnecessary increases for individuals and small businesses, and that’s a problem.’ Woloson says the Trump administration’s elimination of the individual mandate and support of short term plans that offer less coverage are driving the proposed increases.  The elimination of the individual mandate goes into effect in 2019. [Health policy consultant Mitchell Stein] says the proposed premium increases reflect the potential loss of consumers in the ACA marketplace.” [Maine Public, 6/5]

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: “The Department Cited Federal Government Decisions To Shorten [Open Enrollment] And To Eliminate [The Individual Mandate]” As Factors Driving Up Premiums. “The department cited federal government decisions to shorten the period of time in which people can sign up for the plans and to eliminate the requirement in 2019 that everyone have health insurance. It also cited President Donald Trump’s decision last year to eliminate federal funding for added benefits that had been included in plans for the lowest-income policyholders. The department cited that change last year when it approved an average rate increase of 30 percent for the plans. Increases averaged about 33 percent the year before that.” [TribLive, 6/5]

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Efforts To Weaken The Affordable Care Act In The Past Year Have Included Ending Cost-sharing Reductions For Premiums, Shortening The Enrollment Period And Ending The Mandate That Everyone Have Health Insurance.” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/5]

The Hill: “New York Attributed The Proposed Increase To Congress’s Repeal Of The Individual Mandate, While Washington State Blamed Uncertainty Over The Trump Administration’s Looming Changes To ObamaCare.” “ObamaCare insurers in New York and Washington state are proposing double-digit rate hikes for 2019, citing recent and upcoming changes to the law. In New York, 14 insurers are asking state regulators to approve an average rate hike of 24 percent, while 11 insurers in Washington state want to increase premiums by an average of 19.08 percent. New York attributed the proposed increases to Congress’s repeal of the individual mandate, while Washington state blamed uncertainty over the Trump administration’s looming changes to ObamaCare.” [The Hill, 6/4]

Maria Vullo, New York Department of Financial Services Superintendent: “Insurers Have Attributed Approximately Half Of Their Requested Increases” To Repeal Of The Individual Mandate. “‘Insurers have attributed approximately half of their requested rate increases to the risks they see resulting from (the) repeal,’ said Maria Vullo, superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services, which published the requests Friday. ‘Without the federal action, the average requested rate increase would be 12.1 percent.’” [Albany Times-Union, 6/4]

New York Post: Insurers Are “Blaming President Trump’s Repeal Of The Mandate” For Increases. “New York health insurers are requesting an average 24 percent hike to sell individual policies in 2019 under ObamaCare and they’re blaming President Trump’s repeal of the mandate requiring everyone have health care coverage as contributing to the increase… ‘The individual mandate, a key component of the Affordable Care Act, helped mitigate against dramatic price increases by ensuring healthier insurance pools. Insurers have attributed approximately half of their requested rate increases to the risks they see resulting from its repeal,’ said state Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo.” [New York Post, 6/4]

Albany Times-Union: “Most Of New York’s Health Insurers Are Looking To Raise Premiums On The Individual Market Next Year, An Increase They Say Is Necessary Now That Republicans In Congress Have Repealed The Affordable Care Act’s Individual Mandate.”  “Most of New York’s health insurers are looking to raise premiums on the individual market next year, an increase they say is necessary now that Republicans in Congress have repealed the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate… Fidelis Care is seeking the largest rate increase on the individual market. The Capital Region’s most popular health plan is seeking state approval to raise premiums 38.6 percent next year. If the individual mandate were to remain in place, it says, its requested increase would be much smaller — at just 12.7 percent. Other plans that are popular in the Capital Region are also looking to raise premiums. Schenectady-based MVP Health Plan, for example, wants to raise premiums for people who don’t get insurance through their employer by 6.5 percent. At least 4.7 percent of that increase is due to the individual mandate repeal, they said. On the small group market, MVP is seeking a 7 percent premium increase.”  [Albany Times-Union, 6/4]

Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler: “There’s Still A Great Deal Of Uncertainty,” Which Is “Fueled By The Trump Administration’s Efforts To Undermine The Affordable Care Act.” “‘There’s still a great deal of uncertainty in individual markets across the country, fueled by the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act,’ he said, using the formal name for Obamacare. ‘Instead of getting behind solutions that shore up these markets, the administration seems solely focused on undermining our health insurance system and the individuals and families who need to buy their coverage in the individual market.’” [Washington Examiner, 6/4]

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Bipartisan Senators “Had Hearings On Turmoil In Insurance Markets, And Proposed A Plan To Shore Up Markets. They Could Not Get A Senate Floor Vote On The Plan.” “The administration, and Republican leaders in Congress, make repeal of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, a top priority. At one point, GOP repeal efforts in the U.S. Senate were blocked by a single vote, that of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. The bipartisan Senate Health Education Labor & Pensions Committee team of Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., held hearings on turmoil in insurance markets, and proposed a plan to shore up markets. They could not get a Senate floor vote on the plan, or action in the House of Representatives.” [Post-Intelligencer, 6/4]

Pennsylvania Rate Hikes Moderated by State Democrats’ Actions to Protect Consumers, But Federal Sabotage Continues to Pose Threat

Washington, D.C. – As preliminary Pennsylvania rate filings for 2019 individual-market health insurance indicated a relatively moderate increase of 4.9% compared with other states’ double-digit hikes, an anomaly attributable to Pennsylvania Democrats’ actions to counter Washington Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage agenda, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“For the past year and a half, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have engaged in a deliberate, aggressive campaign to undermine health care. Thanks to actions taken by Governor Tom Wolf and Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman to counteract federal sabotage, Pennsylvanians will see smaller rate hikes next year than Americans in other states, where double-digit hikes are threatening consumers. However, Republicans’ ongoing repeal-and-sabotage campaign continues to threaten Pennsylvanians’ care. Washington Republicans should follow Pennsylvania’s lead and work on bipartisan solutions to make coverage more affordable for all Americans, instead of continuing their destructive sabotage campaign.”

From The Pennsylvania Department Of Insurance:

Pennsylvania Department Of Insurance: Small Increases Attributed To “The Department’s Efforts To Maintain Enrollment In The Individual Market,” Highlighted By An Outreach Campaign “To Make Up For Lack Of Marketing From The Federal Government.” “Altman attributes the minimal increases to Pennsylvania’s competitive market and the department’s efforts to maintain enrollment in the individual market despite the federal government’s efforts to shorten the ACA’s open enrollment period and curtail enrollment outreach, while working to achieve affordability for consumers. The Insurance Department launched an outreach campaign to make up for a lack of marketing from the federal government during the 2018 open enrollment season.” [Pennsylvania Department of Insurance, 6/5]

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman: “Ongoing Attempts And Recent Proposed Rules Being Considered At The Federal Level To Dismantle The ACA Still Have The Potential To Jeopardize Market Stability.” “However, the ongoing attempts and recent proposed rules being considered at the federal level to dismantle the ACA still have the potential to jeopardize market stability in future years and negatively impact health insurance consumers. We will continue to work to protect the progress we have made, including Pennsylvania’s lowest uninsured rate on record, and make affordability and access our top priorities for consumers.” [Pennsylvania Department of Insurance, 6/5]

Why Pennsylvanians’ Insurance Could Nonetheless Get Significantly More Expensive In The Future: The Trump Administration and Washington Republicans Keep Sabotaging Health Care

While spending most of last year trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and waging a war on our health care, President Trump and Republicans in Congress have also used their control of Washington to actively undermine the Health Insurance Marketplaces every chance they get – leading insurance companies to raise premiums for 2018 and 2019 and, in some cases, forcing them out of the individual market altogether. Washington Republicans’ goal is simple: sabotage and undermine the Affordable Care Act, then blame everyone but themselves for the consequences of their actions. President Trump keeps rooting for disaster, saying that “The best thing we can do…is let Obamacare explode” and “Let it be a disaster because we can blame that on the Democrats.

Republicans never ended their war on our health care. After Congress failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Trump Administration is aggressively sabotaging our health care system and refusing to work to make coverage better and more affordable.

  • Experts from AARP, the Congressional Budget Office, and a wide range of other nonpartisan organizations agree that Republican actions are forcing up health care costs.
  • Republicans in Congress are supporting the Administration’s many actions to undermine health care, despite widespread opposition from patient and disease groups, doctors, nurses, hospitals, plus health care and consumer advocates.
  • The Trump Administration officials keep rewriting the rules to let big insurance companies cover fewer and fewer services while charging people more and more. The sabotage doesn’t stop there: last year the Administration fired many of the community assisters who help people enroll in health care; this year they are planning more enrollment cuts, making it even harder to sign up for coverage.
  • And now, Republicans are encouraging insurance companies to sell more junk plans that don’t have to cover basic care like hospitalization and prescription drugs, and that are allowed to charge people with pre-existing conditions more or even deny them coverage altogether. In Pennsylvania, no short-term plans available have to cover maternity care, and only 33 percent of plans cover prescription drugs.

The Trump Administration’s sabotage is punishing Americans by jacking up premiums again, compounding the damage done last year, when Republican sabotage pushed rates up by a national average of 37 percent, and 45 percent in Pennsylvania.

  • The Republican tax bill’s repeal of a key Affordable Care Act provision and the Trump Administration’s junk plan proposal will increase individual market premiums in Pennsylvania by an average 19.2 percent this fall, according to a recent Urban Institute study.
  • This sabotage-driven rate hike will make the damage Republicans inflicted last year through repeal attempts and sabotage even worse.
  • Higher premiums will mean fewer working families can afford coverage: during the first year of the Trump Administration, millions more Americans joined the ranks of the uninsured – the highest increase since Gallup started tracking the uninsured rate.

Despite Republican sabotage attempts, the Affordable Care Act has improved Pennsylvanians’ care.

  • 389,081 Pennsylvanians signed up for Marketplace coverage this year.
  • Thanks to the Marketplace and Medicaid expansion, Pennsylvania uninsured rate fell by 5.9 percent between 2013 and 2016 as Pennsylvanians have gained access to affordable coverage.
  • Before today’s announcement, the Urban Institute predicted that Pennsylvania premiums for 2019 could rise 19.2 percent more because of the Trump Administration’s junk plan proposal and the Republican tax bill’s repeal of a key Affordable Care Act coverage incentive.
  • Even despite sabotage, Affordable Care Act subsidies help keep coverage affordable for 85 percent of Pennsylvania Marketplace consumers, whose average 2018 premium is $94 per month.
  • But because of the Republican sabotage agenda, many middle-income Pennsylvanians could pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more than they would have otherwise.

Pennsylvanians won’t forget that Republicans and the Trump Administration carried out health care sabotage to score political points.

  • Health care costs are a top issue in nearly every major issue-ranked poll in 2018.
  • Voters overwhelmingly trust Democrats over Republicans on health care costs.
  • In poll after poll, voters resoundingly reject President Trump and Congressional Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage campaign against the Affordable Care Act.

KEY QUOTES

Former HHS Secretary Tom Price: GOP Actions Responsible For Premium Increases. “President Trump’s former top health official on Tuesday said the Republican tax law would raise the cost of health insurance for some Americans because it repealed a core provision of the Affordable Care Act. Tom Price, Trump’s first secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said people buying insurance on government-run marketplaces will face higher prices because the tax law repealed the ACA’s individual mandate. The mandate had forced most Americans to have health coverage or face a financial penalty. ‘There are many, and I’m one of them, who believes that that actually will harm the pool in the exchange market, because you’ll likely have individuals who are younger and healthier not participating in that market, and consequently that drives up the cost for other folks within that market,’ Price said at the World Health Care Conference in Washington.” [Washington Post, 5/1/18]

America’s Health Insurance Plans: Republican Sabotage Will “Drive Up The Rate Of Premium Increases.” “Policies that disproportionately draw healthy consumers away from the individual market, like expanding access to short-term plans, will likely have an even more devastating effect on affordability, choice and competition. This will further result in adverse selection, drive up the rate of premium increases, and exacerbate affordability issues for many other people.” [America’s Health Insurance Plans Letter to HHS, 4/20/18]

Cynthia Cox, Kaiser Family Foundation: “In The Absence Of Efforts To Undermine The Market, We Would Be Seeing A Period Of Relatively Small Premium Increases.” “‘In the absence of efforts to undermine the market, we would be seeing a period of relatively small premium increases, driven mostly by the underlying growth in health care costs,’ said Cynthia Cox, the lead author of the Kaiser Family Foundation report. ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re in for another year of double-digit premium increases. And if that does happen, it would be in large part due to policy changes that are happening.’” [Huffington Post, 5/18/18]

Kris Haltmeyer, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Vice President: “With The Repeal Of The Individual Mandate And The Failure Of Congress To Enact Stabilization Legislation, We Are Expecting Premiums To Go Up Substantially.” Kris Haltmeyer, a vice president at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, told reporters that the premium increases were in part due to the repeal of ObamaCare’s individual mandate in the Republican tax reform bill in December. He also cited lawmakers’ failure to pass a bill aimed at shoring up the market, which fell apart earlier this year amid a partisan dispute over abortion restrictions. ‘With the repeal of the individual mandate and the failure of Congress to enact stabilization legislation, we are expecting premiums to go up substantially,’ Haltmeyer said. He estimated that average premium increases nationwide will be in the ‘low teens,’ but that there will be major variation across areas, ranging from the low single digits to up to 70 or 80 percent.” [The Hill, 5/23]

New York Times Editorial Board: “The Administration’s Health Care Sabotage Efforts Have Already Had A Big Impact”: A 30-Percent Premium Increase. “The administration’s health care sabotage efforts have already had a big impact — but not the kind of impact officials promised. Insurance companies raised average premiums for 2018 A.C.A. policies by 30 percent. This has mostly hurt middle-class families who have to pay full freight for health insurance because they make too much money to qualify for subsidies and don’t get coverage through their employer. Few experts were surprised when the Commonwealth Fund found that the percentage of American adults who did not have health insurance jumped to 15.5 percent this year, from 12.7 percent before Mr. Trump took office. Experts say those numbers could climb higher still when the penalty for not having insurance goes away next year.” [NYT, 5/3/18]

Commonwealth Fund: Rollback Of Health Insurance Gains Spurred By “Actions By The Current Administration.” “The marked gains in health insurance coverage made since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 are beginning to reverse, according to new findings from the latest Commonwealth Fund ACA Tracking Survey. The coverage declines are likely the result of two major factors: 1) lack of federal legislative actions to improve specific weaknesses in the ACA and 2) actions by the current administration that have exacerbated those weaknesses. These include the administration’s deep cuts in advertising and outreach during the marketplace open-enrollment periods, a shorter open enrollment period, and other actions that collectively may have left people with a general sense of confusion about the status of the law. Signs point to further erosion of insurance coverage in 2019: the repeal of the individual mandate penalty included in the 2017 tax law, recent actions to increase the availability of insurance policies that don’t comply with ACA minimum benefit standards, and support for Medicaid work requirements.” [Commonwealth Fund, 5/1/18]

Center For American Progress: “Combined, The Recent Tax Law’s Repeal Of The Individual Mandate And The Administration’s Short-Term Plan Rule Will Undermine The Individual Insurance Market And Increase Premiums For ACA-Compliant Coverage.” “Last year, as part of the tax law, Congress eliminated the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate penalty. Given the mandate’s important role in encouraging healthier people to enroll in the marketplaces, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that, in 2019, this will increase average premiums in the individual market by 10 percent. Furthermore, in February 2018, the Trump administration proposed a rule to expand short-term health insurance plans… Along with the repeal of the individual mandate penalty, this expansion of short-term plans will drive up average premiums for ACA-compliant coverage in the individual market. Recent preliminary rate filings in Virginia demonstrate that these actions are contributing to significant premium increases for marketplace coverage in 2019. In fact, some Virginia insurers specifically cited the individual mandate repeal and short-term plan rule as major factors in their rate filings… Combined, the recent tax law’s repeal of the individual mandate and the administration’s short-term plan rule will undermine the individual insurance market and increase premiums for ACA-compliant coverage.” [CAP, 5/18]

New York Times: “Rather Than Trying To Eliminate Obamacare In One Fell Swoop, [Republicans Are] Trying To Undermine It With Multiple Acts Of Sabotage – While Hoping Voters Won’t Realize Who’s Responsible For Rising Premiums And Falling Coverage.” “At the beginning of 2017, Republicans promised to release the kraken on Obamacare — to destroy the program with one devastating blow. But a funny thing happened: Voters realized that repealing the Affordable Care Act would mean taking health insurance away from tens of millions of Americans. They didn’t like that prospect — and enough Republicans balked at the backlash that Obamacare repeal fizzled. But Republicans still hate the idea of helping Americans get health care. So instead of releasing the kraken, they’ve brought on the termites. Rather than trying to eliminate Obamacare in one fell swoop, they’re trying to undermine it with multiple acts of sabotage — while hoping voters won’t realize who’s responsible for rising premiums and falling coverage.” [NYT, 5/8/18]

Washington Post Editorial Board: “The Numbers Suggest That [The ACA’s] Critics’ Sabotage Efforts Are To Blame. “The effects of the president’s underinformed instincts, enabled by the ideologues in his administration, are beginning to show up in some of the numbers, representing real pain that Americans are suffering for Mr. Trump’s deficient leadership… Obamacare critics regularly describe all problems as the inevitable result of a poorly designed law. But the numbers suggest that the critics’ sabotage efforts are to blame. After impressive declines during President Barack Obama’s second term, the fund found that the uninsured rate increased in both of the years Mr. Trump has been in office. During the campaign, Mr. Trump regularly complained that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) left too many Americans uncovered. The result of nearly a year and a half of Mr. Trump’s leadership is 4 million people added to that group.” [Washington Post, 5/8/18]

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey: 2018 Premium Increase Was Due To Federal Policy.Three factors connected to federal policy decisions are responsible for 14.7% of the 24.3% total average individual premium increase: Weakened enforcement of the Individual Mandate…Elimination of federal funding for Cost Sharing Reductions (CSR), [and] 2018 reinstatement of Health Insurance Tax…Were it not for the three factors within the control of the Federal Government, Horizon BCBSNJ’s individual premiums would have an average increase of 9.6%.” [Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, 10/17/17]

CEO of CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield: Things Are “Materially Worse” Under Trump. “Continuing actions on the part of the administration to systematically undermine the market and make it almost impossible to carry out the mission…If continued efforts at the federal level undermine the marketplaces, I would think the board would have to examine what they would want — that’s very much on their mind.” [Washington Post, 5/1/18]

Lindsey Graham: Republicans “Own The Outcome” On Health Care. “Sen. Graham told Breitbart News, ‘In October, premiums are going up. Obamacare cannot be fixed. It’s going to continue to collapse, and then, we own the outcome. By repealing the individual mandate, which is a step forward in the eyes of the public, we own the issue. We have a responsibility to do something about the collapsing Obamacare system. I believe that we’re going to get blamed more than Democrats because we stopped trying to repeal Obamacare, and to suggest that we don’t own it is just simply politically naive.’ Graham continued, ‘It can hurt us in 2018. It can hurt by our base feeling like we betrayed them. It can hurt us from people suffering from Obamacare, like we don’t have a solution. It will energize Democrats. It can undercut everything we did on the tax cut side.’” [Breitbart, 2/6/18]

Rep. Charlie Dent: “We, The Republican Party…Own” Health Care Now. “Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) argued Friday that President Trump was ‘ill-advised’ to end key ObamaCare payments, warning that the GOP now ‘owns’ whatever happens to ObamaCare. ‘I think the president is ill-advised to take this course of action because … we, the Republican Party, will own this,’ Dent, a key House moderate who is retiring from Congress at the end of his term, said on CNN. Asked about Trump’s previous comments blaming problems with ObamaCare on former President Barack Obama, Dent pointed out that Republicans currently control the White House and have majorities in both chambers of Congress. ‘Barack Obama is a former president. President Trump is the president and he’s a Republican, and we control the Congress,’ Dent said. ‘So we own the system now. We’re going to have to figure out a way to stabilize this situation … This is on us.’” [The Hill, 10/13/17]

Washington Post: “The Pottery Barn Rule Comes To Mind: You Break It, You Own It.” “This is not ‘letting’ Obamacare fail. Many nonpartisan experts believe that these active measures are likely to undermine the pillars of the 2010 law and hasten the collapse of the marketplaces. The Pottery Barn rule comes to mind: You break it, you own it. Yes, the plate you just shattered had some cracks in it. But if you dropped it on the ground, the store is going to blame you.” [Washington Post, 10/13/17]

Washington Post: “Trump’s Not Going To Be Able To Avoid Blame For Kneecapping Obamacare.” [Washington Post, 10/13/17]

“After Months Of Pinning The Blame For Obamacare’s Shortcomings On Democrats And Watching His Own Party Fail To Act, President Donald Trump Just Took Ownership Of A Struggle That’s Consumed Republicans For Seven Years.” “After months of pinning the blame for Obamacare’s shortcomings on Democrats and watching his own party fail to act, President Donald Trump just took ownership of a struggle that’s consumed Republicans for seven years. Trump’s decision late Thursday to end government subsidies to insurers to help lower-income Americans afford to use their coverage under the Affordable Care Act was the most drastic step he’s taken to undermine his predecessor’s signature achievement. It also lobbed a live bomb into the laps of Republicans lawmakers 13 months before congressional elections after he publicly berated the party’s Senate leadership for being unable to keep a longstanding promise to repeal the law.” [Bloomberg, 10/13/17]

The American People Agree: President Trump And Congressional Republicans Are Playing Politics With People’s Health Care.  A poll conducted last September found that 61 percent of voters believed President Trump was “trying to make the Affordable Care Act fail,” and 64 percent of voters said Trump is “playing politics with people’s health care.” The poll also found that the American people seriously disapprove of how Republicans in Congress are treating health care: 80 percent of voters disapprove while only 20 percent approve. [Hart Research, 9/5/17]

Health Care Remains Top Issue Heading Into Midterms

To: Interested Parties

From: Brad Woodhouse, Protect Our Care Campaign Director

Date: May 3, 2018

Re: Health Care Remains Top Issue Heading Into Midterms


Throughout the Trump presidency, one issue has consistently stood out as the top priority for voters, critical to how Americans will cast their ballots in the midterm elections: health care.

  • Health care is a top issue in nearly every  major issue-ranked poll in 2018;
  • Voters overwhelmingly trust Democrats over Republicans on health care; and
  • Voters resoundingly reject President Trump and Congressional Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage campaign against the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid.

These polls, conducted by nonpartisan news outlets and by research firms from a wide array of ideological backgrounds, have shown consistent results despite asking differently-framed questions amid a turbulent political landscape. Clearly, health care is a dominant issue that will remain potent through the midterm elections, and the consistent partisan trust divide indicates that it should be a major focus for Democratic candidates in virtually every race in the country.

HEALTH CARE REMAINS A TOP ISSUE FOR AMERICAN VOTERS

Throughout 2018, poll after poll has surveyed which issues are top-of-mind for voters and nearly every time health care has been at the top of the list.

For example, a February CNN poll found that health care was voters’ top priority. Among its findings:

  • 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 August of 2010, a year when health care played a major factor in midterm elections.
  • 78% of independent voters said health care was important, 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.

These results were echoed by a March Pew Research Center survey, which found health care is the number-one pocketbook issue for Americans across all income brackets:

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

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

An April HuffPost/YouGov poll found that health care was a top issue for voters, with, 28% of those surveyed listing health care as their top the top issue, leaving the Huffington Post to conclude:

“Heading into the midterm elections, American voters are more likely to say they’re focused about health care than any other issue.”

A March Gallup survey asked Americans about the issues they are most worried about and, 78% of those surveyed named health care as a worry, more than any other issue, leading Newsweek to frame its coverage of the poll, “Health Care Is A Bigger Concern Than Terrorism”:

“Americans are more concerned about health care than they are about terrorism, according to a poll released on Monday. The Gallup survey rated health care as the top concern among Americans, with 55 percent of respondents noting they were “a great deal” concerned about the availability and affordability of health care. Twenty-three percent were “a fair amount” concerned about the topic. It is the fifth year running that health care has topped Gallup’s list of concerns for  Americans. It’s the 13th time overall that the issue has been a top concern. Democrats were more concerned about health care than Republicans, although 39 percent of Republicans still expressed concerns about the issue.”

A survey leaked in March from America First Policies using President Trump’s own pollsters found that health care was the top issue for voters, with 41% saying lowering health care costs should be Congress’ top priority. On the other side of the spectrum, a February poll from Priorities USA also found that independent voters continue to hold major concerns about President Trump’s war on health care:

“Donald Trump’s policies are adding to the economic burdens of average families by raising the cost of health care and driving up insurance premiums. And Trump has broken his promise to crack down on excessive drug prices. Instead, he has given the big drug companies huge tax breaks while allowing them to charge as much as they want, without any controls or negotiation. 60% of voters have major concerns, including 71% among independents.”

HEALTH CARE IS DRIVING DEMOCRATIC SUPPORT

Health care is not just a top concern for voters – it’s also a deciding factor for voters, and drives widespread support of Democrats.

On March 13, voters in Pennsylvania’s eighteenth district went to the polls and selected Conor Lamb over pro-repeal candidate Rick Saccone in a district which had gone for Donald Trump by nearly twenty points. A telephone exit poll of those who cast ballots found that:

  • Health care was a top issue for voters, with 52% listing it as important and only 19% deeming it not important. Among voters who said health care was the most important issue, Lamb beat Saccone 64-36, and among voters who said it was either the most important or a very important issue, Lamb beat Saccone 62-38.
  • On health care, voters said Lamb better reflected their views by 7 points, 45-38. Among independents, that gap widened to 16 points, with 50% saying Lamb’s health care views were more in line with theirs to only 34% for Saccone.
  • Voters were less likely to support Saccone because of the Republican health care agenda. Saccone’s support of the Republican health care agenda made 41% of voters less likely to vote for him and only 28% more likely to support him.

On April 24, Hiral Tipirneni nearly upset Republican Debbie Lasko in Arizona’s eighth district, a “closer-than-expected” result in a district Donald Trump carried by 21 points. A telephone exit poll of those who cast ballots similarly found that:

  • Health care was a top issue to voters, and these voters favored Tipirneni. Health care was ranked as a top issue for 58% of voters, with only 17% saying it was not that important or not important at all. Among these voters, Tipirneni beat Lesko 65-33.
  • On health care, voters said Tipirneni better reflected their views. Overall, voters said Tipirneni better reflected their views by 2 points, 45-43, over Lesko. Among independents, the gap widened to 30 points, 57-27 in favor of saying Tipirneni.
  • Voters were less likely to support Lesko because of the Republican health care agenda. Lesko’s support of the Republican health care agenda made 40% of voters less likely to vote for her and only 33% more likely to support her.

These were not special occurrences, either. A March 21 PPP poll among voters in battleground states found voters supporting pro-health care candidates and rejecting those favoring repeal:

  • In Arizona, health care is a top issue for 68% of voters, with 21% saying it is the most important issue. In a hypothetical Senate election, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema leads pro-repeal candidate Martha McSally 46-41
  • In Nevada, health care is a top issue for 65% of voters, with 27% saying it is the most important issue. In a hypothetical Senate election, Democrat Jacky Rosen leads pro-repeal Dean Heller 44-39.
  • In Pennsylvania, health care is a top issue for 71% of voters, with 25% saying it is the most important issue. In a hypothetical Senate election, Democrat Bob Casey leads pro-repeal candidate Lou Barletta 54-36.
  • In Tennessee, health care is a top issue for 71% of voters, with 31% saying it is the most important issue. In a hypothetical Senate election, Democrat Phil Bredesen leads pro-repeal candidate Marsha Blackburn 46-41.
  • In Wisconsin, health care is a top issue for 72% of voters, with 25% saying it is the most important issue. In a hypothetical Senate election, Democrat Tammy Baldwin leads pro-repeal candidates Leah Vukmir and Kevin Nicholson 51-39 and 51-38, respectively.

And in November, in what analysts deemed the election most seen as a bellwether for the rest of the country, exit polling from Virginia, where Democrats had their best performance in decades, found health care to be far-and-away the most important issue:

  • Asked whether health care, immigration, gun policy, taxes, or abortion was the most decisive issue, 39% of voters said health care was the issue which mattered most.
  • Among those who selected health care, 77% backed Democrat Ralph Northam.

VOTERS REJECT THE REPUBLICAN HEALTH CARE AGENDA

Ultimately, Americans don’t support or trust the GOP when it comes to health care.

A February PPP poll found Americans placing blame for rising health care costs on President Trump’s sabotage of the law. Among its findings:

  • Over half of voters know Republicans are sabotaging health care, with 51% stating that the Trump administration is actively taking steps that will raise people’s health care costs.
  • 60% of voters want to keep the ACA in place and make fixes as necessary, with just 34% favoring repeal.

This rang true in Pennsylvania’s eighteenth district, with polling showing not just support for Conor Lamb based on his health care stance, but also a rejection of Rick Saccone for his pro-repeal views:

  • Voters in this heavily-Republican district disapproved of the Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act by 14 points, 53% to 39%.
  • 59% of those surveyed said the Affordable Care Act should be kept in place with fixes made to it as necessary, while just 38% of those surveyed said the best path forward on health care was to repeal the ACA.
  • Among independent voters, the disparity is even wider, with 63% of independent voters opposing the GOP’s health care efforts and just 33% supporting them.

This was also the case in Arizona’s eighth district. Although Tipirneni was not able to pull off the upset, polling showed health care was a boost for her, and once again showed the ACA’s growing popularity:

  • Voters in this heavily Republican district disapproved of the Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act by 5 points (49% to 44%).
  • Only 41% of voters think the best path forward on health care is to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to 54% who think it should be kept in place with fixes made to it as necessary.

In fact, even the Trump-backed poll finds that voters don’t trust the GOP’s health care agenda. The America First Policies poll also found:

  • By 17 points, voters disapprove of Trump’s “handling of health care and health insurance” with only 38% approving (16% strongly) and 55% disapproving (44% strongly).
  • Among the 41% of voters who say lowering health care costs should be the top priority, 68% want Congress to either leave the Affordable Care Act as it is or work to fix it, with just 31% backing repeal.

And let’s not forget – in direct opposition of the Republican health care agenda, the popularity of the ACA continues to rise:

  • In the PPP poll, approval for the Affordable Care Act 12 was points above water, 47% approval to 35% disapproval, a dramatic reversal from trends before Trump took office.
  • In the PA-18 exit polling, a deeply-red district, 44% of voters supported for the ACA while just 42% opposed it.
  • And in the latest Kaiser tracking poll, 50% of voters expressed their support for the ACA to just 43% who disapproved, reflecting the long-term upward trend of support for the ACA that reached an all-time high in February at 54-42 approve/disapprove.

Ultimately, the message could not be more explicit: voters from all backgrounds and in states across the country are telling the GOP that enough is enough – it’s time for Republicans to end their war on health care and cease their repeal and sabotage agenda. As polls and election results have made clear, if Republicans continue their war on health care and Democrats call them on it, the opposition party will continue to widen its advantage in the midterm elections.