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shot/chaser Archives — Protect Our Care

Shot/Chaser: The Trump Administration Feigns Ignorance on Health Care Sabotage

Today, at an event sponsored by Axios, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar feigned ignorance about why enrollment in the health care marketplaces is lower this year compared to last year. We have an idea. Don’t forget: the last day to sign up is December 15.

 

SHOT: “We don’t know why they’re at where they are now.” [Axios]

 

CHASER:

  • This year, the Trump administration slashed funding for non-profit health navigator groups, that help people shop for coverage, by nearly 75 percent.
  • For the second consecutive year, the Trump administration spent $10 million on the advertising budget to get the word out about open enrollment, down 90 percent from $100 million under the Obama administration.
  • This year, the Trump administration issued new guidance urging states to “tear down basic pillars of the Affordable Care Act,” that would make comprehensive coverage more unaffordable.
  • This year, the Trump administration made it easier for insurance companies to sell junk health insurance that can deny people coverage based on a pre-existing condition.

HOLD THE PHONE: Ted Cruz Shut Down the Government to Block the Health Care Law Including Protections for People with Pre-existing Conditions

SHOT: During last night’s Senate debate, Senator Ted Cruz said, “On Obamacare, I want to repeal Obamacare, reduce premiums, protect pre-existing conditions, and expand access.”

 

CHASER: Ted Cruz — one of the Senate’s biggest cheerleaders for health care repeal — lied to Texans last night. From his repeated votes to repeal pre-existing conditions protections, to his vocal support for the Trump-GOP lawsuit to overturn protections for people with pre-existing conditions overnight, to leading the Republican effort to shut down the government over implementation of the Affordable Care Act — which guarantees protections for people with pre-existing conditions — to his votes to cut billions from Medicare and Medicaid, Ted Cruz has worked to rip away protections for people with pre-existing conditions every chance he’s gotten.

She Lied: Rep. Martha McSally Voted to Gut Protections for People with Pre-Existing Conditions

“McSally is the latest in a long line of Republicans telling shameful, outright lies out of desperation to conceal their votes to strip the pre-existing conditions protections millions of Americans depend upon,” said Brad Woodhouse, executive Director  of Protect Our Care.

 

SHOT: At last night’s Senate debate, Congresswoman Martha McSally stated, “I voted to protect people with pre-existing conditions.”

 

Chaser:  McSally lied to Arizonans last night. She voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, including its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. In its place, she tried to pass “the American Health Care Act,” (AHCA) which would have gutted protections for pre-existing conditions and forced people to spend thousands more for the care they need: an estimated $4,270 extra for asthma, $17,060 extra for pregnancy, $26,180 extra for rheumatoid arthritis and $140,510 for metastatic cancer.

 

That’s not all: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the ACHA would have raised premiums 20 percent in 2018 and the negative economic impact of the American Health Care Act would cause 60,714 Arizonans to lose their jobs by 2022.

 

FACT-CHECK:  Leah Vukmir Can’t Rewrite History

 

Prior to ACA Insurance Companies Routinely Denied Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions

During last night’s debate between Senator Tammy Baldwin and Leah Vukmir,, Vukmir, a long time, rabid proponent of repealing the Affordable Care Act, including its protections for people with pre-existing conditions, claimed that people with pre-existing conditions would continue to have coverage even if the Affordable Care Act were repealed. This is false.  

 

The facts:  Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurance companies had the ability to deny or drop coverage based on a pre-existing condition for anyone purchasing coverage in the individual market. That included women and people with any health issue like cancer, diabetes, or asthma.

Senator Baldwin is standing up for people with pre-existing conditions. She stood up against Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act last year. She is a leader trying to stop the expansion of “short-term” plans, or junk plans that allow insurance companies to deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition and has introduced a resolution to do just that.

 

Here’s what really took place before the ACA:

 

  • Before The ACA, Insurance Companies Could Retroactively Deny Someone Coverage Once They Got SIck. This foul-play impacted Robin Beaton, whose insurance company denied her coverage for a double mastectomy because she had previously received acne treatment. “Robin Beaton found out last June she had an aggressive form of breast cancer and needed surgery — immediately. Her insurance carrier precertified her for a double mastectomy and hospital stay. But three days before the operation, the insurance company called and told her they had red-flagged her chart and she would not be able to have her surgery. The reason? In May 2008, Beaton had visited a dermatologist for acne.

 

    • Before The ACA, 18 Percent Of Individual Market Applications Were Denied Because Of A Pre-Existing Condition.

 

  • Prior To The Affordable Care Act, Insurance Companies Charged Women An Estimated $1 Billion More Than Men For The Same Health Care Plans.

 

Thanks To The Affordable Care Act, Insurance Companies Can No Longer Drop Coverage Because You Get Sick. Because of the ACA, insurance companies can no longer rescind or cancel someone’s coverage arbitrarily or because they get sick.

  • Because Of The Affordable Care Act, Insurance Companies Can No Longer Impose Annual And Lifetime Limits On Coverage. Before the ACA, insurance companies could restrict the amount of dollar amount of benefits someone could use per year or over a lifetime. At the time the ACA was passed, 91 million Americans had health care through their employers that imposed lifetime limits. Many such plans capped benefits at $1 million annually, functionally locking people with complex medical needs out of coverage.

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]