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Premiums Archives — Protect Our Care

House Republicans Go Home After Doing Nothing to Lower Premiums, Bring Down Drug Costs or Protect People with Pre-Existing Conditions

Washington, D.C. – Following House Republicans’ failure to pass any legislation to address the real concerns of Americans — continuing protections for people with pre-existing health conditions, lowering premiums, or bringing down the cost of prescription drugs — during their so-called “Health Care Week,” Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care, released the following statement:

“The events of this week show that Republicans are running scared because of the mess they are in with their constituents over health care. As they head home for recess, House Republicans are desperate to distract from the fact that every chance they get, they vote 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. House Republicans may try to hide from it, but Americans know what they are doing to our health care — we are living with the consequences every day. That’s why today, the fight to protect our care is as urgent and as energized as it ever was.”

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New Report Shows Americans Will Spend Thousands of Dollars More on Health Care Premiums Due to GOP Sabotage

Washington, D.C. New data released today by the Center for American Progress (CAP) shows a family of four will be paying an extra $3,000 for marketplace coverage due to Republican sabotage, while House Republicans gear up to advance politically-motivated legislation that will provide no relief for the higher health care costs Republicans have caused American families.

CAP’s analysis — and this shameless political posturing of House Republicans — comes nearly a year to the day after Americans rose up to stop the repeal of the Affordable Care Act in the Senate. All this time later, health care remains a top issue for voters because of the GOP’s ongoing campaign to sabotage health care and the higher costs and havoc it has caused all people, but especially those with pre-existing conditions, women, and people over age 50.  

“These bills do nothing to roll back the premium increases caused by the Republican tax bill, the Administration’s relentless sabotage campaign, and the uncertainty in the markets caused by Republicans’ repeated efforts at repeal. The premiums Americans will see next year will be too high by thousands of dollars, on top of the massive increases we are already paying this year because of the intentional, deliberate acts of Republican war on health care. We wish Republicans would work with us to advance bipartisan, popular reforms to reverse the damage they’ve done and bring costs back down for consumers. But as this week’s events show, they are only interested giving themselves political cover before they face their constituents this fall,” said Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care.

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:

GOP Sabotage Has Persisted for 18 Months, and Has Caused Massive Premium Increases

  • Last year, Republican sabotage pushed 2018 insurance premiums up by a national average of 37 percent and this year GOP sabotage has resulted in 2019 premium increases in all but two states where the data is available.
  • Among the findings in CAP’s report released today, in 2019:
    • A typical family of four will see a marketplace premium that is $3,110 higher.
    • A 55-year-old couple will see a premium $3,330 higher on average.
    • An unsubsidized 40-year-old will pay an extra $970 on average.
  • Meanwhile, other acts of sabotage would eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions and raise costs. View a comprehensive list of acts of health care sabotage here.

A Year After Repeal Defeated in the Senate, Health Care is the Top Issue to Voters, and May be the Issue that Most Influences the Midterm Elections

  • A new Protect Our Care-PPP poll released yesterday found voters will support candidates who want to improve the ACA rather than repeal it, and strongly oppose the Trump Administration going to court to overturn protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
  • In June, the Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll found health care to be the top issue for voters, ranked higher than all issues, including the economy and jobs.
  • A June NBC News poll found health care to be top midterm issue.
  • In a May CBS News poll, voters said health care is the most important issue in deciding who to vote for Congress in November.
  • A year ago, ACA repeal bills were among the least popular pieces of major legislation in history. When the House was considering the “American Health Care Act,” (AHCA) polls at the time showed it to be the most unpopular piece of major legislation Congress had considered in decades. Then, the so-called Graham-Cassidy repeal bill had a 24 percent approval, even more unpopular than the AHCA.

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“This is How Health Care Disparities Are Exacerbated”: Trump Administration Slashes Funds To Navigators That Help People Purchase Health Care

On Tuesday, the Trump Administration escalated its war on Americans’ health care by announcing it would be slashing funding for navigators, who assist people in finding quality, affordable coverage, and directing these navigators to steer people to junk plans, which don’t have to provide consumer protections like those for pre-existing conditions.

Here’s what their decision means, and how Americans will be harmed by the Administration’s actions:

New York Times: Navigator Cuts Are Next Step In An “Escalating Attack” On The Affordable Care Act. “The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that it was slashing grants to nonprofit organizations that help people obtain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the latest step in an escalating attack on the law that threatens to destabilize its insurance markets.” [New York Times, 7/10/18]

HHS Slashes Funding Available For Groups That Help People Sign Up For Marketplace Coverage By $26 Million.”A total of just $10 million will be available nationwide for the next enrollment season — down from $36 million for this year, and $63 million for last year…In addition to slashing navigators’ funding, CMS is also pushing navigators to sign people up for the non-ACA options the Trump administration has expanded — association health plans and cheaper, skimpier short-term policies.” [Axios, 7/11/18]

We Have Already Seen How Much Of An Impact These Cuts Have. “Last year’s cut forced navigators to lay off staff, cancel events, and, in some cases, cease operations altogether. This new cut will leave navigators with just a fraction of the money they had available for the open enrollment periods that occurred during President Barack Obama’s administration ― in all likelihood hampering their ability to help consumers through the complicated process of choosing a health insurance policy and applying for financial assistance.” [Huffington Post, 7/10/18]

Trump Administration Claims Nonprofit Navigator Groups Do Worse Job Helping People Find Coverage Than Insurance Agents And Commercial Brokers. “Trump administration officials said the insurance counselors, known as navigators, did not enroll enough people to justify more spending. Insurance agents and brokers do much better, they said.” [New York Times, 7/10/18]

Administration Fundamentally Shifts Mission Of Navigator Groups, Instructing Them To Encourage People To Sign Up For Junk Plans That Are Exempt From Key Consumer Protections. “They will, for the first time, help people enroll in health insurance plans that do not comply with the consumer protection standards and other requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Since they began work in 2013, navigators have helped people enroll in health plans that comply with the Affordable Care Act. Now the Trump administration says they should also inform consumers of other options, like ‘association health plans’ and short-term, limited-duration insurance. Such plans do not have to provide the standard health benefits like preventive services, maternity care or prescription drug coverage, but administration officials say they will also be more affordable to consumers.” [New York Times, 7/10/18]

New York Magazine: “The Trump White House Has Been Busy Separating Migrant Families And Plotting The Demise Of Roe V. Wade In Recent Weeks, But Don’t Worry: They Haven’t Forgotten About Their Quest To Make It Harder For Americans To Obtain Adequate Health Insurance.” “But the administration isn’t just making it more difficult for people to enroll in Obamacare. Going forward, the administration wants navigators to steer clients into skimpier health coverage. While nonprofits operating under the navigator program were previously forbidden from recommending particular health plans, now groups that apply for the grants will be expected to encourage people to buy association health plans or short-term insurance plans.” [New York Magazine, 7/11/18]

Navigator Cuts Will Do More Than Just Suppress ACA Enrollment, They Will Likely Also Reduce Enrollment In Medicaid And CHIP. “Consumers who use navigators frequently end up enrolling in Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program or other special programs ― or simply enrolling on their own, at home, after long consultation with navigators. As a result, they don’t show up as enrolling in the private marketplace plans, which is the metric CMS is using to judge navigator performance. Navigators also target people with special needs, including those with complicated medical or financial situations that make eligibility for federal programs confusing. These are precisely the sorts of people who might not respond to routine advertising or find the help they need through commercial brokers.” [Huffington Post, 7/10/18]

NAVIGATOR GROUP LEADERS WARN THAT CUTS WILL HURT UNDERSERVED POPULATIONS

Fred Ammons, Supervises Insure Georgia Navigator Group: This Means Less Help To Underserved Populations. “This is a huge cut to navigator programs across the country. It will virtually eliminate face-to-face in-person assistance. It means less help, much less help, to underserved, hard-to-reach populations, people who live in rural areas or have low literacy or don’t speak English as their primary language.” [New York Times, 7/10/18]

Jodi Ray, Project Director For Florida Covering Kids And Families: We Will Be Put in Awful Position Of Pitting Populations Against Each Other. “This is pretty terrible, We will be put in the awful position of pitting populations that need assistance against each other, in order to prioritize how we can use the resources. This also does not take into account all the kinds of assistance navigators provide all year, such as helping with complex cases and issues and filing appeals. Florida will definitely be hit hard by this.” [Huffington Post, 7/10/18]

  • Ray: “This Is How Health Care Disparities Are Exacerbated.” [Kaiser Health News, 7/12/18]

Catherine Edwards, Executive Director Of Missouri Association Of Area Agencies On Aging: Administration Is “Strangling” Navigator Program. “They’re just strangling the program…They couldn’t kill the program in Congress, so they are cutting the money.” [Washington Post, 7/10/18]

William Hoagland, Bipartisan Policy Center Senior Vice President: “It Does Send A Signal Of Course That The Administration Is Not Promoting Enrollment.” “Combined with other recent actions by the Trump administration, the decision sets a negative tone, Hoagland said. ‘It does send a signal of course that the administration is not promoting enrollment,’ he said.” [Kaiser Health News, 7/12/18]

Elizabeth Hagen, Senior Health Consultant: Shifting Focus To Junk Plans Will Lead Consumers To Plans That Don’t Reflect THeir Needs. “CMS now wants the navigators to promote these policies in addition to steering people toward ACA-compliant plans and Medicaid. This adds to the concern about the lack of navigator funding. The availability of such new types of coverage will increase consumer demand for specially trained navigators, said Elizabeth Hagan, a senior consultant with Transform Health, a consulting firm. She said the problem with reducing consumer assistance is not so much that fewer people will buy coverage but that people will buy policies that don’t fit their needs.”  [Kaiser Health News, 7/12/18]

Mark Van Arnam, Director of North Carolina Navigator Consortium: Cuts Will Be Devastating To People Who Need Assistance To Find Coverage. “They are the public face of the Affordable Care Act in North Carolina for legions of residents stumped by the complexities of health insurance. But next year, ACA navigators — the trained instructors who explain health benefits and help people enroll — will be harder to find as a result of federal funding cuts. The Trump administration announced Tuesday it would could nationwide funding for navigators by 72 percent, from $36 million to $10 million. In North Carolina, which has consistently had the nation’s highest enrollments, the navigator budget will be cut by 85 percent — from $3.4 million to $500,000. ‘These are significant cuts,’ said Mark Van Arnam, director of the N.C. Navigator Consortium. ‘There’s a large portion of the population that we talk to that doesn’t understand the ACA and needs assistance.’” [News & Observer, 7/12/18]

CBO Confirms: GOP Sabotage Is Raising Costs, Reducing Coverage

Yesterday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report detailing the higher costs Americans are facing due to the GOP’s repeal and sabotage campaign. Among its conclusions: premiums will be going up double-digits, 5 million more Americans than originally anticipated will lose health insurance, and these negative consequences are happening because of Republicans’ actions. Here are the key takeaways:

Washington Post: “The Reality Is Republicans Leading Both Chambers And The White House Have Acted In Ways That Could Trigger The Rise Of Premiums.” “The reality is Republicans leading both chambers of Congress and the White House have acted in ways that could trigger the rise of premiums. They’ve repealed the law’s individual mandate, paving the way for healthier people to leave the marketplaces and leave sicker, more expensive patients behind. They’re working to expand leaner plans exempt from ACA coverage requirements. And they haven’t found a way to pay extra subsidies in order to defray extra plan costs for the lowest-income customers.” [Washington Post, 5/24]

CNN: Individual Mandate Repeal “Alone Will Cause Premiums To Be 10% Higher.” “Congress eliminated the penalty associated with Obamacare’s individual mandate as part of its tax reform package last year. This change alone will cause premiums to be 10% higher because fewer healthy people will buy coverage, leaving insurers with a sicker and costlier group of policyholders, the CBO projected.” [CNN, 5/23]

CNBC: “The CBO Also Projects About 5 MIllion More People” Will Be Uninsured, “Up To A Total Of 35 Million People.” “The CBO also projects about 5 million more people under the age of 65 will be uninsured in 2027 than it estimated in September, up to a total of 35 million people… Trump and congressional Republicans tried unsuccessfully to repeal the landmark health law multiple times last year. They managed to repeal the individual mandate, which required most people to have some form of health insurance or pay a tax penalty, as part of the broader tax law it passed in December. The change is slated to go into effect next year. This coupled with higher premiums will cause 3 million more people than previously forecast to be uninsured next year, CBO estimates. Between 2019 and 2028, it expects the number of uninsured people to increase to 35 million.” [CNBC, 5/23]

The Hill: “ObamaCare Premiums Are Expected To Rise An Average Of 15 Percent Next Year, An Increase Largely Due To The GOP’s Repeal Of The Individual Mandate.” “ObamaCare premiums are expected to rise an average of 15 percent next year, an increase largely due to the GOP’s repeal of the law’s individual mandate, according to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis released Wednesday. The CBO estimates that gutting the requirement that Americans have health insurance or face a tax penalty will contribute to about a 10 percent rise in premiums for 2019, with insurers expected to see healthier people dropping out of the marketplaces, leaving sicker enrollees on the plans.” [The Hill, 5/23]

Bloomberg: “One Reason For The Rising Premiums Is The Actions Of President Donald Trump.” “One reason for the rising premiums is the actions of President Donald Trump. Last year, Trump topped funding for the cost-sharing reduction payments made to insurers under Obamacare to help Americans afford health costs. The non-payment of those subsidies, less enforcement of a rule requiring people to have insurance and limited competition caused insurers to raise their premiums by about 34 percent in 2018, compared to 2017. That increased the cost of the subsidies to the federal government, according to the CBO.” [Bloomberg, 5/23]

Axios: “The Magnitude Of These Increases Stems Largely” From Administrative Actions. “Insurance premiums tend to go up every year, but the magnitude of these increases stems largely from the repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate, the expansion of skimpy short-term plans, and the decision last year to cut off the law’s cost-sharing payments. [Axios, 5/24]

Justine Handelman, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Vice President: “It Continues To Be Uncertain Times.” “Although the administration hasn’t teed up any new policy announcements lately, senior officials from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association told reporters yesterday that there’s still reason to be nervous.  It’s too late to help moderate premium hikes for 2019, they said, so they’re focused on 2020. They’re hoping new policies like the change in short-term plans won’t take effect until 2020, so that they won’t upend the market assumptions plans have made for next year.‘It continues to be uncertain times,’ said Justine Handelman, a BCBSA senior vice president.” [Axios, 5/24]

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,’ Haltmeyer said… Haltmeyer said the premium increases are ‘related to the loss of the mandate and then underlying medical costs.’ ‘Those two things have the most impact on the rate increases,’ he added.” [The Hill, 5/23]

Why Oregonians’ Insurance Is Getting Even More Expensive: The Trump Administration and Washington Republicans Keep Sabotaging Health Care

Washington, D.C. – As preliminary Oregon rate filings for 2019 individual-market health insurance indicated potential double-digit premium increases due to 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 and now families in Oregon are being asked to pay the price. While insurance companies make huge profits and enjoy record tax breaks from Republicans, they are planning to charge working families even more. Until we stop Republicans’ war on health care, health care experts predict that rates will keep rising by double digits. 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 Oregonians.”

From the Insurance Companies

Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon: “Continued Lack Of Funding For Cost Sharing Reduction Plans” And “Expected Reduction In The Size Of The Individual ACA Market” Responsible For Higher Premiums. “These rate changes are necessary due to the increasing cost of medical care, the continued lack of funding for cost sharing reduction plans, and the expected reduction in the size of the Individual ACA market.” [BCBS, 5/14]

BridgeSpan: “Expected Reduction In The Size Of The Individual Market” Driving Higher Premiums. “The main drivers of the rate change are the increasing cost of medical care and the expected reduction in the size of the individual market. This filing reflects projected claim expenses increasing around 8.3% annually.” [BridgeSpan, 5/14]

Why Oregonians’ Insurance Is Getting Even More Expensive: 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.

Now, initial rate filings in Oregon forecast double-digit rate hikes again this fall because of Republican sabotage.

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 Oregon, no short-term plans available have to cover maternity care, and only 23 percent of plans cover prescription drugs.

The Trump Administration’s sabotage will punish 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 20 percent in Oregon.

  • 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 Oregon by an average 9.1 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.

This could have been avoided: if Republicans had stopped sabotaging health care, American families wouldn’t be facing another huge increase this fall.

  • Even the Trump Administration has admitted that the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplaces had been stabilizing prior to them coming into office.
  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had predicted only modest rate increases if Republicans hadn’t sabotaged the markets.
  • Even Senate Republicans admitted this fall’s upcoming rate hikes were “avoidable,” but then they torched bipartisan stabilization talks at the last minute, prioritizing partisan politics over their last opportunity to help American families afford health care next year.

Despite Republican Sabotage, the Affordable Care Act Has Improved Oregonians’ Care.

  • 156,105 Oregonians signed up for Marketplace coverage this year.
  • Thanks to the Marketplace and Medicaid expansion, Oregon’s uninsured rate fell by 8 percent between 2013 and 2016 as Oregonians have gained access to affordable coverage.
  • Before today’s announcement, the Urban Institute predicted that Oregon premiums for 2019 could rise 9.1 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 75 percent of Oregon Marketplace consumers, whose average 2018 premium is $138 per month.
  • But because of the Republican sabotage agenda, many middle-income Oregonians could pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more than they would have otherwise.

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]

Cigna: Policies Advocated By The Trump Administration Causing Premium Increases. “Two of Virginia’s ObamaCare insurers are requesting significant premium hikes for 2019, according to initial filings released Friday. Both Cigna and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield cited policies advocated by the Trump administration, including the repeal of ObamaCare’s individual mandate, as part of its justifications for the increases. Cigna is proposing an average premium increase of 15 percent for its 103,264 customers in Virginia, with a range of increases from 6.4 percent to 40 percent. CareFirst is proposing a 64 percent increase for its approximately 4,500 customers in the commonwealth, citing an increase in sicker people entering the marketplace.” [The Hill, 5/4/18]

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]

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]

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]

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]

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]

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]

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]

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]

Susan Collins & Seema Verma Had Their Chance to Lower Rates & They Blew It

Washington, D.C. – After Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) bragged about discussing rising premiums with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Administrator Seema Verma, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Campaign Chair Leslie Dach released the following statement:

“Senator Collins talking to Administrator Verma about Republican rate hikes is about as much help to working families as two foxes chatting in front of a chicken coop. Senator Collins’ ‘plan’ for lowering premiums was to vote for a TrumpTax bill that raised them by double digits, while Administrator Verma’s ‘plan’ is to sell junk insurance that doesn’t cover essential medical care and allows companies to once again discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. Last fall, Senator Collins had a clear opportunity to tackle rising premiums, and she missed the boat. She could have voted against the GOP tax bill and kept her promise to pass a bipartisan market stabilization package to undo some of the Trump Administration’s own sabotage. Instead, she did neither. Senator Collins and Seema Verma can discuss rising premiums until the cows come home, but in fact, it’s their policies that got us into this mess in the first place.”

As Insurance Companies Cite “Policies Advocated By The Trump Administration,” Virginians Face Republican-Inflicted Rate Hikes

On Friday, preliminary Virginia rate filings for 2019 individual-market health insurance indicated a potential double-digit average premium increase due to Washington Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage agenda. What’s behind this spike? In the words of the insurance companies themselves, “policies advocated by the Trump Administration” are driving the increases. It’s the latest consequence of the GOP’s repeal-and-sabotage campaign. Here’s some early coverage:

Senators Mark Warner And Tim Kaine: “These Proposed Price Increases Are A Painful Consequence Of The Trump Administration’s Efforts To Sabotage The Health Insurance Market And Dismantle The Affordable Care Act.” “These proposed price increases are a painful consequence of the Trump Administration’s efforts to sabotage the health insurance market and dismantle the Affordable Care Act. After a series of unsuccessful attempts to repeal the ACA, President Trump and Republicans in Congress settled for taking actions that will increase premium costs for American families, something even Trump’s former HHS Secretary admitted this week. Now, their irresponsible games are hurting Virginians by making it harder for families to afford health care. We hope our colleagues will take this seriously and pass bipartisan legislation to stabilize the market and make sure Virginians have affordable options for health insurance in 2019.” [Senator Tim Kaine, 5/4]

Rep. Don Beyer: “This Is A Scandal And A Disgrace And Virginians Are Going To Be Hurt Very Badly.” “Awful healthcare news for Virginia. Last year we stopped Trump/GOP attempts to repeal the ACA and strip health insurance from 23 million people. They responded by sabotaging the healthcare system. We just learned that this is going to cause Virginians’ premiums to skyrocket. ‘Skyrocket’ = double-digit increases, up to 64%, depending on your insurer and plan. There is no way to sugarcoat these health insurance premium hikes: they are across different insurers, they are devastating, and many will not be able to afford them. Why is this happening? The insurers themselves attribute it to Republican actions… This is a scandal and a disgrace and Virginians are going to be hurt very badly, especially those who can least afford it. It is so infuriating… Congress must act immediately to undo the Trump/GOP sabotage and take steps to rein in costs. It is still possible to help if we work together for solutions. Right now this is awful news for Virginians, but we will not be the only ones. Americans in other states will feel the same pain of health premium increases, and some may get hit even harder. The GOP did this on purpose. They have to let us fix it.” [Twitter, 5/4]

Virginian-Pilot: “Cigna And CareFirst Said Trump Administration Policies, Including The Repeal Of The Individual Mandate, Led To The Proposed Increases.” “Two of the insurance companies that participate in Affordable Care Act exchanges in Virginia are seeking clearance for large increases in premiums for next year…  Cigna and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield are two of seven insurers that offer policies under what is known as Obamacare… Cigna and CareFirst said Trump administration policies, including the repeal of the individual mandate, led to their proposed increases. Cigna said it anticipates sicker people entering the market, a result of the individual mandate being repealed. Cigna also cited ‘anticipated changes to regulations’ involving short-term plans and association health plans as a reason for the requests.” [Virginian-Pilot, 5/4]

The Hill: Insurers “Cited Policies Advocated By The Trump Administration” As Justification For Increases. “Two of Virginia’s ObamaCare insurers are requesting significant premium hikes for 2019, according to initial filings released Friday. Both Cigna and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield cited policies advocated by the Trump administration, including the repeal of ObamaCare’s individual mandate, as part of its justifications for the increases… The pro-ObamaCare group Protect Our Care Campaign was quick to attack the administration following the news. ‘Until we stop Republicans’ war on health care, health care experts predict that rates will keep rising by double digits,’ said the group’s director, Brad Woodhouse. ‘D.C. 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 Virginians.’” [The Hill, 5/4]

Fierce Healthcare: Premiums Could Rise 64% “And Insurers Are Blaming President Donald Trump And Congressional Republicans.” “Premium increases for exchange plans could swell as much as 64% in Virginia next year if proposed rate hikes hold up. And insurers are blaming President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans. According to preliminary filings submitted on Friday, two of Virginia’s largest ACA insurers, Cigna and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, are requesting significant premium hikes for next year in response to planned policy changes by the Trump administration and the GOP’s repeal of the individual mandate… The insurers cited repeal of the individual mandate and ‘anticipated changes to regulations’ to short-term health plans as reasons for the drastic increases. Congressional Republicans repealed the mandate last year as part of its tax overhaul, and the Trump administration has moved to extend the short-term health plan duration to 12 months. Both policies are projected to drive younger, healthier people from the markets, raising premiums for those who remain.” Fierce Healthcare, 5/6]

Politico: “This Time It’s Democrats Taking Advantage Of The Proposed Spikes To Blame President Donald Trump And Hill Republicans, Arguing They Have Taken Several Actions That Will Destabilize Insurance Markets.” “The initial glimpse of premium increases is predictably prompting political jockeying that will continue throughout the summer and fall as officials finalize next year’s prices. Unlike prior years, this time it’s Democrats taking advantage of the proposed spikes to blame President Donald Trump and Hill Republicans, arguing they have taken several actions that will destabilize insurance markets.” [Politico, 5/7]

Andy Slavitt, Former Acting CMS Administrator: “Trump Is Giving Insurance Companies Unfettered Ability To Charge What They Want, Deny What They Want, Cover What They Want, And Make Unlimited Profits.” [Twitter, 5/5]

Larry Levitt, Kaiser Family Foundation: “With Insurers Now Mostly Profitable In The ACA Individual Insurance Market, I Would Have Expected Single-Digit Premium Increases For 2019 Reflecting Health Cost Growth. With Repeal Of The Individual Mandate And Expansion Of  Short-Term Plans, Double-Digit Hikes Are Now Likely.” [Twitter, 5/7]

Joe Scarborough: “This Is A Coming Sign Of The Times That Will Haunt A Republican Party That Sabotaged America’s Health Care System Instead Of Replacing Or Reforming It.” [Twitter, 5/6]

Charles Gaba, ACA Signups: “For Anyone Who Doesn’t Believe The Latest Batch Of [Sabotage] By Trump Isn’t Gonna Jack Rates Up Next Year, I’ve Already Got Receipts Out Of Virginia.” [Twitter, 5/6]

Jon Favreau: “Enjoy Premium Hikes Of 64%, Brought To You By Republican Control Of Washington. And That Number Will Climb Even Higher If Republicans Keep Congress And Continue To Sabotage The Affordable Care Act In 2019.” [Twitter, 5/4]

David Certner, AARP: “Steps Could (And Should) Have Been Taken This Past Year To Hold Down Health Care Premiums. Instead, The Reverse Has Happened, And Now Insurers In Virginia Propose Major Premium Hikes For 2019.” [Twitter, 5/6]

Administrator Verma Rejects Responsibility For Sabotage As Americans Bear Brunt Of Trump Administration’s Damage

SHOT:

CMS Chief Seema Verma Slams Claims That She And Trump Administration Have Sabotaged Americans’ Health Care [MedPage Today]:

“‘I take exception to those out there who have made claims that we have tried to sabotage the healthcare of the American people, particularly when it comes to the healthcare exchanges,’ [Verma] said here at the World Health Care Congress. ‘Obamacare was failing long before Donald Trump became president and I became CMS administrator.’

“The reality, said Verma, is that health insurers have fled the exchange markets ‘after losing millions of dollars.’”

CHASER:

Since President Trump Came Into Office, Millions Of Americans Have Lost Health Coverage. A recent survey by the Commonwealth Fund shows that nearly 4 million people have lost coverage since 2016. The uninsured rate among working age people is now 15.5 percent, a significant increase from 12.7 percent in 2016.

Why? Because The Trump Administration Has Sabotaged The Affordable Care Act. Per Axios, “Commonwealth attributes the increase largely to the way Congress and the Trump administration has handled the ACA.”

CHASER:

More Evidence Of The Administration’s Sabotage: Health Care Premiums Will Increase By An Average of 18.3 Percent In 2019. Because Republicans repealed the requirement that most people have insurance and are expanding access to short-term health plans, the nonpartisan Urban Institute estimates that health care premiums will increase by an average of 18.3 percent in 2019.

CHASER:

The Administration Is Bringing Back Junk Insurance That Leaves Americans On Their Own Should They Get Sick. The Trump Administration expanding access to short-term health plans that let insurers deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, impose coverage limits, and refuse to cover basic health benefits like maternity care and prescription drugs. These plans help insurers make money while leaving Americans who get sick on their own, often with tremendous debt.

Experts, Disease Groups, And Advocates Warn That Short-Term Plans Will Increase Costs And Reduce Protections For Consumers:

AARP: Short-Term Plans Will Increase Older Americans’ Premiums By An Average Of $2,000, or As Much As $4,000. “Unfortunately, these changes would result in much higher premiums for older adults and people with preexisting health conditions buying individual policies through the ACA Marketplace…Using 2018 Marketplace premiums, we estimate these premium increases could be an average of $2,000 — or as much as $4,000 (Table 1) — for 60 year-olds who buy silver plan coverage.” [AARP, 3/21/18]

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

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

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

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

Alliance of Community Health Plans: Short-Term Plans Will Cause Insurers To Flee The Market.  “ACHP is also concerned that the proposed rule will cause more insurers to flee the market, leaving consumers with fewer coverage options.” [Letter to HHS, 4/19/18]

New Protect Our Care Ad: As Premiums Increase, Americans Should Thank Donald Trump & Congressional Republicans

Washington, D.C. – This year, Protect Our Care is kicking off May’s focus, Repeal and Sabotage Accountability Month, by releasing a web ad highlighting the consequences of Republicans’ deliberate health care repeal and sabotage campaign: a 20 percent rate hike set to hit working families while health insurance and pharmaceutical companies reap the windfalls of the GOP’s trillion-dollar tax break.

“From the moment he took office, President Trump has launched attack after attack on our health care, and Congressional Republicans have been eager to help. They tried to repeal the law; they attempted to undermine open enrollment; they promised to make the law fail; and they’ve proposed expanding junk insurance plans that would take us back to the days when insurance companies could impose sky-high rates on people with pre-existing conditions, or deny them coverage altogether. Now, Republican sabotage has left working people holding the bill. Every American who faces higher health care costs this year and next can thank Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans,” said Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse.

Watch the ad here.

Ad script:

Are you sick and tired of Washington forcing your health care costs to go up? And up. And up.

For more than a year, Donald Trump and Republicans have sabotaged our health care…

… They ordered the government to dismantle the law.

… Then they made it harder for people to enroll.

… Then they proposed ways for insurance companies to deny care and discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.

Doctors, patient groups, and health experts say the sabotage has a cost: higher premiums for you and your family – nearly 20% higher or more.

All this while their tax bill gave health insurance and pharmaceutical companies huge tax breaks.

Republicans and President Trump promised premiums would be lower but it’s their sabotage that is jacking up rates 20%.

People who work for a living? They just get higher costs.

And they keep going higher.

Enough is enough. Tell Republicans to stop the sabotage.  End the war on our health care.

Schumer Puts Trump, Republicans On Notice for Upcoming Rate Hikes

Washington, D.C. – Today on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) put Republicans on notice: as preliminary rate hikes for next year begin to roll out, Democrats will speak out loudly and often about how  President Trump and Congressional Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage campaign against Americans’ health care will leave working families holding the bill.

In response, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse said: “Sen. Schumer hit the nail on the head – President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have undertaken a deliberate, aggressive campaign to sow chaos in the health insurance marketplace, and the consequences of their actions will soon become clear. Every American who sees rate hike announcements as soon as next week can thank one group of people: President Trump and Republicans in Congress.”

TRANSCRIPT

“Finally, on another matter, health care. Next week, health insurance companies will begin to announce their initial proposed rates for 2019 in each state across the country. And when they do, every American should remember that President Trump and Congressional Republicans have spent the past year and half trying to sabotage our health care system in a way that could increase costs and decrease access to quality health care.

“It’s true that last summer, the Senate Republican effort to repeal our current health care system and gut Medicaid — an effort that would have left tens of millions uninsured and raised costs on millions more — ended, thankfully for the American people, in failure.

“Despite that legislative failure, President Trump, his administration, and Congressional Republicans have committed several other acts of sabotage, raising premiums and hurting health care, all, it seems to me, for a political vendetta.

“For a long time, the president refused to guarantee that the administration will honor the cost-sharing program, which reduces premiums and out-of-pocket expenses for low-income Americans. He eventually cancelled payments for that program, causing major uncertainty and confusion in the markets.

“Then, Republicans repealed the health care coverage requirement as a part of their tax bill and put nothing in its place. The CBO projects that repealing the coverage requirement could cause rates to increase by as much as 10% and result in millions more people without insurance, so if you can’t get insurance, Mr. or Mrs. American, or if your premiums are going up you’ll know who caused it: the president, and Congressional Republicans by sabotaging a law that the majority of Americans want to see stay on the books.

“And making things worse, earlier this week, the comment period ended for a proposed Trump administration rule that is perhaps that most radical sabotage of our health care system yet — a rule that would expand the availability of junk insurance plans. These junk insurance plans would force higher premiums on people with pre-existing conditions, impose an “age tax” on older Americans, and once again could subject Americans to the devastating effects of medical bankruptcy, which too many people go through now. Many plans might not cover essential services like prescription drugs, maternity care, and mental health services.

“Each of these actions taken by President Trump and Republicans in Congress will raise costs and reduce access. We are truly living under “Trumpcare” today, with no effort by the president or Congressional Republicans to make it better.

“And, unfortunately, starting next week, the American people could see the devastating consequences of a year and half of health care sabotage reflected in the 2019 rates.”