Tag

Seema Verma Archives — Protect Our Care

Calling BS on CMS: Seema Verma’s Medicaid Spin Is a Bald-Face Lie

Washington, DC — Today, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma gave a speech at the CMS Quality Conference in Baltimore, Maryland where she tried to affirm the administration’s commitment to Medicaid, despite the multiple efforts orchestrated by Verma to sabotage and undermine the program.

In response, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, released the following statement:

Seema Verma’s comment today is, plain and simple, a bald-faced lie. This administration has worked against Medicaid at every turn. Indeed, not since Medicaid was signed into law more than 50 years ago has there been an administration or an Administrator more hostile to Medicaid than the Trump administration and Seema Verma. The Trump administration supports so-called work requirements like those in Arkansas which has already ripped coverage away from 18,000 people, opposed Medicaid expansion in states across the country, and advocated for the block granting of Medicaid which is a euphemism for slashing its budget and kicking people off the rolls.

Fortunately, the American people have a different view: Medicaid has never been more popular. The attacks on Medicaid by this administration and its Republican allies led in large part to the defeat of the ACA repeal effort. And, during the 2019 election, voters across the country rejected the Republicans’ sabotage agenda and either expanded Medicaid at the polls or elected pro-Medicaid politicians who promised to do so in office. The truth is, Medicaid is flourishing despite this administration’s efforts to undermine it and no type of Orwellian spin from Administrator Verma can change that.”

Seema Verma and Donald Trump Continue to Hide Behind Lies As Americans Continue to Worry About their Care

“Instead of a super secret so-called contingency plan which no one actually believes exists, just end the lawsuit,” said Brad Woodhouse.

Washington, D.C. – In response to CMS Administrator Seema Verma telling the Washington Examiner that the Trump Administration has a secret “contingency plan” should their lawsuit to upend the American health care system go through, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, released the following statement:

“The best contingency plan for protecting American health care – and especially for those with pre-existing conditions – is for the Administration to withdraw its support for this disastrous lawsuit and instead defend the law of the land. The American people have made their voices loud and clear: they support the Affordable Care Act, they want people with pre-existing medical conditions to be protected from discrimination by insurance companies, and they oppose any and all GOP efforts to undermine their health care. Instead of a super secret so-called contingency plan which no one actually believes exists, just end the lawsuit.”

 

THE CLAIM:

CMS Chief Seema Verma Claims That She And The Trump Administration Have A Contingency Plan If The Trump-GOP Lawsuit To End Protections For Pre-existing Conditions is successful [Washington Examiner]:

Seema Verma told reporters that “we do have contingency plans” if the healthcare law is struck down — specifically the provision aimed at ensuring people with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer or diabetes, have access to coverage.

But Chief Seema Verma declined to describe the backup plan, saying that “it wouldn’t be appropriate to share details because it may or may not be needed.”

 

THE REALITY:

If Judge Reed O’Connor rules in favor of the 20 Republican state officials and Trump’s Department of Justice, Seema Verma and Donald Trump will own the consequences to the American people. And those consequences are serious. Critical Affordable Care Act protections could vanish overnight, unleashing — as the Trump Administration itself admitted — “chaos” in our entire health care system.

  • 17 million people could lose their coverage in a single year, leading to a 50 percent increase in the uninsured rate
  • Protections for 130 million people with pre-existing conditions, their own, could end.
  • Medicaid expansion, currently covering 15 million Americans, could vanish.
  • Improvements to Medicare, including reduced costs for prescription drugs, would be eliminated.
  • Children would no longer be allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26
  • Ban on annual and lifetime limits? Gone.
  • Ban on insurance discrimination against women and people over age 50? Nope.
  • Limits on out-of-pocket costs? Eliminated.
  • Small business tax credits? Done.
  • Marketplace tax credits for up to 9 million people? Not anymore.

Seema Verma Continues to Spread Misinformation When Promoting Harmful Medicaid Work Requirements

Today, in defense of the Trump Administration’s indefensible work requirements that have kicked thousands of people off of their health care, Seema Verma, the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, continued to argue  that these requirements help Medicaid enrollees attain “skills they need” and “jobs that are available.”

Say what?

Here’s the truth: TAKING AWAY SOMEONE’S HEALTH CARE DOES NOT HELP THEM TO WORK

  • Evidence suggests that such work requirements hurt, rather than help enrollees’ ability to find work. A study of Michigan’s Medicaid “illustrates the functional barriers to work that Medicaid beneficiaries face, and many of them result from physical and mental health challenges. This suggests to us that taking away their health coverage means that they are less likely to find work – not more so…a stable source of health coverage such as Medicaid is likely to assist people with their chronic mental and physical health conditions so that they they are better able to seek employment.” In both Ohio and Michigan, having access to health care made it easier for the unemployed to find work: “majorities said that gaining health coverage has helped them look for work or remain employed. Losing coverage — and, with it, access to mental health treatment, medication to manage chronic conditions, or other important care — could have the perverse result of impeding future employment.

 

  • In Michigan, Medicaid Work Requirements Hurt, Rather Than Help Enrollees’ Ability To Find Work: “The Michigan study illustrates the functional barriers to work that Medicaid beneficiaries face, and many of them result from physical and mental health challenges. This suggests to us that taking away their health coverage means that they are less likely to find work – not more so…a stable source of health coverage such as Medicaid is likely to assist people with their chronic mental and physical health conditions so that they they are better able to seek employment.” [Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, 12/15/17]

 

  • In Ohio, Health Coverage Made It Easier For The Unemployed To Look For Work: “In studies of adults who gained coverage in Ohio and Michigan under the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, majorities said that gaining health coverage has helped them look for work or remain employed. Losing coverage — and, with it, access to mental health treatment, medication to manage chronic conditions, or other important care — could have the perverse result of impeding future employment. [CBPP, 1/11/2018]

 

WORK REQUIREMENTS ADD ADMINISTRATIVE HURDLES, MAKING IT HARDER FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE ELIGIBLE FOR CARE TO GET IT

  • Early results in Arkansas confirm that Medicaid work requirements are fundamentally bureaucratic hurdles, threatening access to health coverage for thousands across the state. “The early results suggest that the incentives may not work the way officials had hoped. Arkansas officials, trying to minimize coverage losses, effectively exempted two-thirds of the eligible people from having to report work hours. Of the remaining third — about 20,000 people — 16,000 didn’t report qualifying activities to the state. Only 1,200 people, about 2 percent of those eligible for the requirement, told the state they had done enough of the required activities in August, according to state figures.” [New York Times, 9/24/18]

 

  • Requiring People On Medicaid To Prove They Are Working Adds An Administrative Burden That Is Hardest On Low-Income Americans. “[Administrative hurdles] may be especially daunting for the poor, who tend to have less stable work schedules and less access to resources that can simplify compliance: reliable transportation, a bank account, internet access.  There is also a lot of research about the Medicaid program, specifically, that shows that sign-ups fall when states make their program more complicated.” [New York Times, 1/18/18]

 

  • Documentation Requirements Increase The Chances That People Will Lose Care, Simply Because They Have Trouble Navigating The Process. “There is a real risk of eligible people losing coverage due to their inability to navigate these processes, miscommunication, or other breakdowns in the administrative process. People with disabilities may have challenges navigating the system to obtain an exemption for which they qualify and end up losing coverage.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 1/16/18]

 

Seema Verma Admits Her Administration Will Let Uninsured Rate Continue to Rise

Washington, D.C. – This morning at the America’s Health Care Future event hosted by the Washington Post, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma admitted that the uninsured rate will continue to rise under their watch. Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement in response:

“Administrator Verma’s remarks this morning are only the latest example of the Trump Administration demonstrating their total disregard for Americans’ health care. During President Trump’s first year in office, the uninsured rate grew by 3 million – the largest increase since 2008. During President Trump’s second year in office, premiums are expected to increase double-digits across the country. The Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress have carried out a sabotage campaign designed to make  the Affordable Care Act fail, and they have succeeded to the detriment of the American people. Administrator Verma’s admitting that the Administration has no plans to stop this suffering is disgraceful. Enough is enough – it’s time for the GOP to end their war on health care.

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.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Protect Our Care Statement on Arkansas’ Draconian Medicaid Plan

The Trump Administration just approved yet another damaging proposal to cut Medicaid, this time in Arkansas. The newly approved waiver, which imposes a red-tape-heavy work requirement that places first-in-the-nation burdens on Arkansas Medicaid enrollees with jobs and on those with disabilities, threatens 60,000 Arkansans and has been deemed even “more punitive” than Kentucky’s draconian waiver by the Arkansas Times.

Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Arkansas is the latest state to fall for the Trump Administration’s wrongheaded push to cut Medicaid and leave more vulnerable citizens without coverage. Analysis after analysis after analysis after analysis shows that these Medicaid requirements actually make it harder for lower-income people to find a job and stay at work, and really have only one aim: denying people coverage. By imposing onerous monthly paperwork requirements on working people and forcing Arkansans with disabilities to re-prove their exempt status every two months, today’s Arkansas plan breaks new ground in needless and ideologically-driven cruelty.

“In another dangerous precedent, the Trump Administration has refused to affirm what the Affordable Care Act says in black and white: Medicaid expansion dollars are only available to expand Medicaid, and Arkansas’ blatantly unacceptable proposal to kick those making between around $12,000 and $17,000 a year off the rolls is illegal and wrong. This cruel proposal should be rejected outright.

“Unfortunately, Arkansas is the latest state taking its cues from the Trump Administration’s relentless war on Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Unless President Trump and the Administration cease their attacks, states like Arkansas will keep following them down this dark path, and Americans across the country will keep losing their coverage. Enough is enough – it’s time for the GOP to end its war on Americans’ care.”

This Week in the War on Health Care

This week, while Congress was on recess, the Trump Administration continued its unprecedented assault on the American health care system. Here’s what happened this week in the Republicans’ war on health care – and the extensive data showing that opposition to the GOP health care agenda is only growing:

SHORT-TERM PLANS? MORE LIKE LONG-TERM SCAMS

On Tuesday, the Trump Administration announced a proposal to let insurance companies sell short-term plans year-round. These plans skirt Affordable Care Act requirements to cover essential health benefits like cancer treatment, substance use treatment, and maternity care and can deny coverage altogether for those with pre-existing conditions.

What do these plans do?

  • Short-term health plans offer inadequate medical coverage and circumvent fundamental consumer protections
  • Short-term plans provide junk coverage which leaves those who get sick with thousands of dollars in unpaid bills
  • Short-term plans offer subpar coverage coverage which will raise premiums and destabilize markets

The negative reactions to this backdoor sabotage came fast and thick:

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Liver Foundation, American Lung Association, Arthritis Foundation, Consumers Union, Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation, Leukemia And Lymphoma Society, Lutheran Services In America, March Of Dimes, National Health Council, National Ms Society, National Organization For Rare Disorders, United Way, World Wide Volunteers Of America: “The proposed rule released today would permit insurance companies to offer substandard insurance policies to millions of americans… as organizations committed to ensuring that coverage remains affordable, accessible, and adequate for all americans, we cannot support this proposal.” [Consumers Union, 2/20/18]

America’s Health Insurance Plans: “We remain concerned the expanded use of short-term plans could further fragment the individual market, which would lead to higher premiums for many consumers, particularly those with pre-existing conditions.”  [Twitter, 2/20/18]

Mike Kreidler, Washington State Insurance Commissioner: “If you get sick you may not be able to renew your coverage — there are no protections for people with pre-existing conditions. maternity care and mental-health benefits often are excluded.” [New York Times, 2/20/18]

Larry Levitt, Kaiser Family Foundation Senior Vice President: “Short-term insurance plans don’t cover pre-existing conditions, don’t cover the aca’s essential benefits, and can impose annual limits on coverage.” [Twitter, 2/20/18]

Rachel Sachs, Health Law Professor: “The government will spend millions more to provide fewer people with comprehensive coverage.” [Twitter, 2/20/18]

REPUBLICANS GO AFTER PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

The most popular provision of the Affordable Care Act is its ban on insurance company discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions. Short-term plans would once again force consumers to fill out medical history forms, and pay the price if they check the wrong boxes. Don’t believe us? Take a look at the headlines yourself:

NBC News: Trump pushes insurance that doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions

Vox: Trump’s quiet campaign to bring back preexisting conditions

Alaska Native News: Trump’s Latest Sabotage Targets Americans with Pre-existing Conditions

USA Today: Trump proposes 12-month insurance plans that don’t cover people, issues Obamacare requires

NPR: Trump Administration Wants To Let Insurers Offer Plans With Fewer Benefits

New York Times Editorial Board: Trump Tries to Kill Obamacare by a Thousand Cuts

CAUGHT IN A LIE

Also this week, top Administration health officials Secretary Alex Azar and Administrator Seema Verma directly contradicted their own short-term plan regulation as they desperately tried to spin away the damage which would be inflicted on Americans’ ability to access quality, affordable health care:

What They Said What Their Reg Said
Individual market premiums VERMA: “This shift will have will have virtually no impact on the individual market premiums.” HHS REG: “It would result in an increase in premiums for the individuals remaining in those risk pools. An increase in premiums for individual market single risk pool coverage would result in an increase in Federal outlays for APTC.”
Lower-quality coverage VERMA: “While in the past these plans have been a bridge, now they can be a lifeline.” HHS REG: “Consumers who purchase short-term, limited-duration insurance policies and then develop chronic conditions could face financial hardship as a result, until they are able to enroll in PPACA-compliant plans that would provide for such conditions.”
Fewer insurance options AZAR: “This is a group of people, they live in areas of the country where there’s one plan they might have access to, so they’re looking for other options.” HHS REG: “Individual market issuers could experience higher than expected costs of care and suffer financial losses, which might prompt them to leave the individual market.”
Short-term or not? AZAR: “We are proposing that these plans would be available up to 12 months for people … We are asking for comment on whether we have the legal authority to let people renew their plans.” HHS REG: “Short-term, limited-duration insurance is a type of health insurance coverage that was designed to fill temporary gaps in coverage that may occur when an individual is transitioning from one plan or coverage to another.”
Pre-existing conditions AZAR: “These plans may have fewer benefits than we’re used to, they may have more restrictions, and also they may be able to limit who they insure for. That’s part of this.” HHS REG: “Short-term, limited-duration insurance policies would be unlikely to include all the elements of PPACA-compliant plans, such as the preexisting condition exclusion prohibition.”

CROCODILE TEARS FROM THE SWAMPIEST ADMINISTRATION

On Thursday, Axios reported that America’s largest pharmaceutical companies are using their windfall from the GOP tax scam to drive up their own stock prices to the tune of $50 billion, “a sum that towers over investments in employees or drug research and development.” Why is this so appalling?

  • The GOP cried crocodile tears over the cost of prescription drugs – and then gave Big Pharma a giant windfall through their tax scam.
  • The GOP has consistently voted to raise prescription drug costs, from the health care repeal that would get rid of Medicare’s prescription drug benefit to their confirmation of a Big Pharma executive who let drug prices skyrocket to lead HHS.
  • All the while, millions of Americans continue struggling to afford their prescription drugs, too often being forced to choose between their medication and a meal. And the GOP does nothing.

On prescription drugs, as well as their broader war on health care, however, the GOP’s actions, are finally catching up to them…

AMERICANS AGREE: KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF OUR HEALTH CARE

Four polls over six weeks have reached the same conclusion: the ACA has achieved lasting popularity, the electorate is angry about GOP sabotage, and health care is voters’ top priority. Here’s what the numbers say:

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

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

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

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

These polls came on the heels of a January Washington Post/ABC News poll asking Americans about President Trump’s time in office, which found that Americans are most united in opposition to the GOP’s health care agenda:

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

And all of these polls followed a Hart Research memo which found health care is the number one issue among voters, far exceeding anything else:

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

One poll can be an outlier, two a coincidence – but four polls in six weeks independently highlighting the importance of health care and the contrast between the Affordable Care Act’s popularity and the GOP’s sabotage show just how important this issue is to the American people.

From coast to coast, constituents are making their view abundantly clear: it’s time for the GOP to stop its war on health care, and there will be significant consequences should President Trump and Congressional Republicans fail to heed this advice.

Trump Officials’ Claims Contradict Their Own Short-Term Plan Proposal

Yesterday, top Trump health officials Secretary Alex Azar and Administrator Seema Verma directly contradicted their own short-term plan regulation as they desperately tried to spin away the damage their plan would inflict on Americans’ ability to access quality, affordable health care.

In their own words, here’s a roundup of Azar’s and Verma’s inconsistencies about the real impact of their “short-term” plan proposal:

Spiking individual market premiums

HHS REG: “It would result in an increase in premiums for the individuals remaining in those risk pools. An increase in premiums for individual market single risk pool coverage would result in an increase in Federal outlays for APTC.”

VERMA: “This shift will have will have virtually no impact on the individual market premiums.”

Lower-quality coverage

HHS REG: “Consumers who purchase short-term, limited-duration insurance policies and then develop chronic conditions could face financial hardship as a result, until they are able to enroll in PPACA-compliant plans that would provide for such conditions.”

VERMA: “While in the past these plans have been a bridge, now they can be a lifeline.”

Fewer real insurance options

HHS REG: “Individual market issuers could experience higher than expected costs of care and suffer financial losses, which might prompt them to leave the individual market.”

AZAR: “This is a group of people, they live in areas of the country where there’s one plan they might have access to, so they’re looking for other options.”

“Short term” or not?

HHS REG: “Short-term, limited-duration insurance is a type of health insurance coverage that was designed to fill temporary gaps in coverage that may occur when an individual is transitioning from one plan or coverage to another.”

AZAR: “We are proposing that these plans would be available up to 12 months for people … We are asking for comment on whether we have the legal authority to let people renew their plans.”


Bonus: A Pre-existing Predicament

Even Azar and Verma can’t find a way to sugarcoat the harm their proposal would inflict on the one in four Americans with a pre-existing condition. The Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions are among the law’s most popular provisions.

HHS REG: “Short-term, limited-duration insurance policies would be unlikely to include all the elements of PPACA-compliant plans, such as the preexisting condition exclusion prohibition.”

AZAR: “These plans may have fewer benefits than we’re used to, they may have more restrictions, and also they may be able to limit who they insure for. That’s part of this.”