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This Week Archives — Protect Our Care

This Week in the War on Health Care: Repeal Defeat Anniversary Edition

One year ago, health care repeal was defeated. It was defeated because of the individuals across the country, from Alaska to Maine, who went to town halls and parades and protests to make their voices heard. It was defeated because of the numerous people with different backgrounds, from children with pre-existing conditions to seniors with disabilities, who traveled thousands of miles to the U.S. Capitol to make sure their representatives would listen to them. It was defeated because of the never-ending work done by everyday Americans who refused to let their care be taken away. And today, the health care fight is as urgent and energized as ever.

Health care is a top issue for voters, who are overwhelmingly backing Democrats on the issue:

Washington Post: Health Care Among Top Issues Motivating Voters, A “Clear Advantage” For Democrats. “Three months from the midterm elections, health care remains a gaping political vulnerability for the GOP… Recent polls have shown that health care is one of the top issues motivating voters, alongside jobs and the economy. A Washington Post-Schar School poll in July found that Democrats have a clear advantage among those voters who cite health care as their most important issue, and a Pew Foundation poll in June found that voters trust Democrats over Republicans on the issue by a 16-point margin.” [Washington Post, 7/25/18]

Kaiser Family Foundation: Protecting People With Pre-Existing Conditions Top Health Care Priority, Public Overwhelmingly Opposes Supreme Court Overturning Them. “A candidate’s position on continuing protections for people with pre-existing health conditions is the top health care campaign issue for voters, among a list of issues provided. This issue cuts across voter demographics with most Democratic voters (74 percent), independent voters (64 percent), and voters living in battleground areas (61 percent), as well as half of Republican voters (49 percent) saying a candidate’s position on continued protections for pre-existing health conditions is either the single most important factor or a very important factor in their 2018 vote. When it comes to the Supreme Court and possible future court cases, once again, continued protections for people with pre-existing conditions weighs heavy on the minds of the public. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) do not want to see the Supreme Court overturn these protections.” [KFF, 7/25/18]

Forbes: Pre-Existing Condition Poll “Another Sign Of Mounting Political Problems For Republicans.” “By a 2-to-1 margin, U.S. voters disapprove of the U.S. Justice Department’s decision to support a lawsuit that would eliminate popular protections for patients with preexisting conditions under the Affordable Care Act, a new poll shows. The survey of likely voters by Hart Research Associates is another sign of mounting political problems for Republicans heading into the November mid-term elections, putting GOP candidates on the defensive for the Trump DOJ’s decision not to defend one of the most popular features of the ACA.” [Forbes, 6/24/18]

It’s a centerpiece of the Supreme Court fight:

Vox: The Fate Of The ACA Could Turn On Judge Kavanaugh’s Appointment. “The fate of the Affordable Care Act may hinge on the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court — as Democrats have rightly been pointing out. But supporters of the health care law, if anything, underestimate the dangers to the law posed by conservative legal challenges and a rightward shift on the Court. Aspects of Kavanaugh’s jurisprudence as it relates to health care, especially his views about executive power, raise concerns that deserve more attention than they have been given so far —particularly because the president and his agencies have been using their powers to sabotage the ACA for more than a year. One highly politicized challenge to the ACA coming out of Texas has indeed received a lot of attention: It turns on the question of whether the entire health care law should be struck down now that Congress has eliminated the ACA’s penalty for failing to comply with the so-called ‘individual mandate’ to buy health insurance under the law. But the ACA is under attack on multiple legal fronts; anyone concerned needs to focus on more than just Texas. Taken together, these challenges threaten to end the ACA’s essential protections, including a minimum level of care for all and guaranteed access to quality health care regardless of preexisting conditions.” [Vox, 7/23/18]

Washington Post: Brett Kavanaugh Could Take An Ax To Obamacare. Kavanaugh is a polarizing figure in the health-care debate. Among the things that distinguish him from the other finalists on Trump’s list is his expansive view of executive power — he argued that a president could decline to enforce a statute such as Obamacare even if a court upholds its constitutionality — and his dissent in a 2011 case in which others on his appellate court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act… In the long run, Kavanaugh could shape jurisprudence for decades on abortion, gay rights, voting rights, money in politics, guns, presidential authority and more. But his most immediate impact could be on health care.” [Washington Post, 7/9/18]

USA Today: Brett Kavanaugh Could Deal Death Blow To Obamacare. “With the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, President Donald Trump has now engaged all three branches of government in his fight to get rid of the Affordable Care Act and protections for people with pre-existing health conditions. Kavanaugh made clear last year in a speech at the Heritage Foundation that he thinks the court was wrong to uphold the ACA’s insurance mandate as constitutional. He has also said a president should be allowed to not enforce components of a law if he personally deems it unconstitutional (encouragement this president doesn’t need). There couldn’t be a more in-your-face threat to the ACA than from a Justice Kavanaugh.” [USA Today, 7/14/18]

It’s a driving force behind campaigns from coast to coast:

USA Today: Democratic Candidates Running On Health Care After GOP Attempts To Repeal Obamacare. “In one online ad, Democratic House candidate Angie Craig of Minnesota blasts GOP Rep. Jason Lewis for voting ‘to dramatically increase the cost of insurance and kick millions off health care.’ Rep. Jacky Rosen, a Democratic Senate candidate from Nevada, in another ad, highlights Sen. Dean Heller’s pledge to oppose a Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, before ultimately backing the effort under pressure from President Trump. And Democratic House candidate Antonio Delgado of New York has an ad that points to GOP Rep. John Faso’s vote for repealing the ACA, known as Obamacare, after promising a woman with a brain tumor on video that he would not take away her health care… After years of playing defense on health care, Democratic candidates have made it a top issue this election cycle.” [USA Today, 5/2/18]

Seattle Times: “Her Experience [Over Repeal] Led Her To Do Something She’d Never Dreamed Of: Run For Congress.” “Last spring, Issaquah pediatrician Kim Schrier joined three other Virginia Mason doctors for a meeting with an aide to U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn. On their minds: a Republican health-care bill aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. At Reichert’s Issaquah district office, Schrier and her colleagues argued against the GOP plan, pointing to estimates it would chop health-care access for tens of thousands of people in the 8th Congressional District… Within a week or so, Reichert voted to pass the health-care overhaul out of the House Ways and Means Committee. He later voted against the final version, but only after it was clear Republicans had enough votes to pass it without him. Her experience with Reichert led Schrier to do something she’d never dreamed of: run for Congress against a seven-term incumbent.” [Seattle Times, 7/26/18]

  • Kim Schrier, “If Congress Was Doing Its Job, I Would Not Have To Run For Office.” “‘I was ticked off. Frankly, if Congress was doing its job, I would not have to run for office. I would be back holding little babies. But times have changed,’ Schrier told volunteers at her campaign headquarters in Issaquah this month.” [Seattle Times, 7/26/18]

Bristol Herald Courier: “The Health Care Discussion Spurred Him Into Action.” “Dr. Marty Olsen was listening to the radio in 2017, when the health care debate was raging across the country. The discussion centered on repealing the Affordable Care Act. He had been contemplating what he could do to help take the country in a different direction. The health care discussion spurred him into action. ‘I recognized that my congressman was a physician who was going to vote to move 22 million people off their health care rolls, and these were the people I take care of,’ he said, referring to U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, a retired physician. ‘I said, ‘Well, that’s wrong.’ And so, I just thought, ‘If you think it’s wrong, then go do something.’’ So the 59-year-old obstetrician/gynecologist decided to throw his hat in the race for the 1st District U.S. House seat.” [Bristol Herald Courier, 7/24/18]

And it’s not going away anytime soon:

Washington Post: Why Health Care Is Making Republicans’ Challenge In November Even Harder. “Unlike many issues, with health care, Democrats can make a persuasive argument no matter to whom they are talking. To their own base, they can say, ‘Republicans tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act and take away Medicaid from millions, and now they want to do even more to take away health security.’ And to swing voters, they can say, ‘Look what Republicans have done to you. Your premiums keep going up, your out-of pocket costs keep going up, and now the Trump administration even wants to take away protections for people with preexisting conditions. They said they’d fix everything, and they failed.’ Both arguments are correct. And in October, premium rates for 2019 will be announced, leading to a wave of stories about rising health-care costs.” [Washington Post, 7/19/18]

This Week in the War on Health Care

Another week, another non-stop assault on Americans’ health care by Republicans. Here’s what happened this week in the war on health care:

BRETT KAVANAUGH IS THE LATEST THREAT TO AMERICANS’ HEALTH CARE

President Trump had at least two litmus tests for Judge Kavanaugh to become his nominee for the Supreme Court: 1) overturn Roe v. Wade and overturn America’s health care, and 2) by gutting protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Such a radical shift on these issues would be disastrous for women’s health and would put the health care of 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions at risk.

Kavanaugh also represents a drastic threat to Medicaid, which covers one in five Americans. How?

  • Kavanaugh could allow states to restrict enrollment through onerous work requirements;
  • Kavanaugh could prevent Medicaid from covering health care at Planned Parenthood;
  • Kavanaugh he could deny individuals and providers the right to sue when a state’s Medicaid program isn’t complying with the law, which experts suggest will enable states to decimate their medicaid programs, and
  • Kavanaugh could end Medicaid expansion.

And if anyone thinks this isn’t the case, they need only look to Sen. Orrin Hatch.

ADVOCATES MOUNT DEFENSE FOR HEALTH CARE AND WORK TO STOP KAVANAUGH

Across the country, however, health care advocates have geared up in opposition to the nomination, urging their senators to reject Judge Kavanaugh. Among the highlights:

  • In Alaska, Protect Our Care was joined by health care advocates, Alaska Native leaders, and former Alaska Superior Court Judge John Reese to urge Sen. Lisa Murkowski to do what is best for Alaska and reject a justice who won’t protect Alaskans’ care;
  • In Maine, Protect Our Care was joined by the Maine Women’s Lobby and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in calling on Sen. Susan Collins to protect pre-existing condition protections and women’s access to health care;
  • In Tennessee, Protect Our Care was joined by a coalition of concerned citizens including Jen Yamin, the mother of a son with pre-existing conditions, Kristen Grimm, the mother of child with special needs, and Anna Carella, Co-Chair of Healthy and Free Tennessee, outside Sen. Bob Corker’s Nashville office, and
  • In Washington, D.C., Protect Our Care and Little Lobbyists joined Leader Chuck Schumer and Sens. Patty Murray, Ron Wyden, Chris Murphy and Chris Van Hollen at press conference to lay out the threat against Americans with pre-existing conditions if Judge Brett Kavanaugh is appointed to the Supreme Court.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SUSPENDS RISK ADJUSTMENT PAYMENTS

On Saturday, the White House announced it was suspending risk adjustment payments. Suspending risk adjustment payments, which don’t cost the taxpayer a single penny, will make it harder for people with pre-existing conditions to access coverage, and drive up premiums for millions. How was this decision covered this week?

  • Chicago Sun-Times Editorial: Trump Administration Yanks Health Care Away From Even More Americans
  • Wall Street Journal: Trump’s Latest Affordable Care Act Move Adds To Insurers’ Uncertainty
  • Politico: Latest Obamacare Shake-up Could Fuel Rate Hikes
  • New York Times: Health Insurers Warn Of Market Turmoil As Trump Suspends Billions In Payments
  • Washington Post: Trump Administration Takes Another Major Swipe At The Affordable Care Act
  • NPR: Why Health Insurance Premiums May Rise Next Year

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PUSHES JUNK PLANS, CUTS ENROLLMENT ASSISTANCE FOR NAVIGATORS

On Tuesday, CMS announced that the Trump Administration would be slashing navigator funding and pushing enrollment for junk plans that charge people more money for less care.

After keeping one million Americans from gaining coverage by cutting last year’s open enrollment period in half and slashing advertising for affordable plans by ninety percent, the Trump Administration is once again taking quality, affordable health care away from people who need it through its latest act of sabotage. Defunding the navigator program and forcing the navigators who are left to push junk plans on the American people is a shocking and cynical move, even by this Administration’s standards.

AND DON’T FORGET – THE WHITE HOUSE IS STILL RESPONSIBLE FOR RISING DRUG COSTS

On Tuesday, Pfizer said that it would postpone  its planned drug prices. As Axios noted, however, “Pfizer is only deferring those price hikes, not canceling them. And it’s taking its products back to what they cost in June — a time when Trump was very much of the belief that the prices were too high.” In fact, as industry analyst Richard Evans said, “This is not going to change mainstream list price behavior at all.”

In other words, Donald Trump offered yet another totally shallow promise more focused on obtaining public relations victories than lowering Americans’ medical costs. If this Administration was serious about bringing costs down, they would be following through on campaign promises like allowing Medicare to negotiate a fair price for prescription drugs. Instead, we will continue to get nothing but false assurances from an Administration heavy on rhetoric and short on solutions.

This Week in the War on Health Care

While the Supreme Court dominated the headlines , Republicans continued their unprecedented assault on the American health care system. Here’s a look back at what happened, plus highlights from three Senators who stood up for Americans’ care and two more polls that confirm Americans’ opposition to the GOP health care agenda.

NEW SUPREME COURT JUSTICE COULD HARM AMERICANS’ HEALTH CARE

Yesterday’s announcement that Justice Anthony Kennedy will retire at the end of this month came on the heels of Trump Department of Justice joining the lawsuit to overturn protections for the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. Observers around the country took note, and pointed out that Trump’s next appointee, if confirmed, could tip the balance in terms of Americans’ access to affordable health care:

  • Modern Healthcare: Kennedy retirement could have “far-reaching consequences” on health care.
  • MedPage Today: Pre-existing condition case could swing due to Kennedy retirement.
  • Wall Street Journal: Some on Trump’s short list have already decided against Americans’ access to affordable health care.
  • New York Times: Kennedy retirement important due to “Trump Administration’s recent indication that it will use the courts to dismantle the law’s popular protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”

President Trump and Congressional Republicans already have voted to repeal health care protections and gone to court to overturn them. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi have called on their Congressional colleagues, as well as Americans of all stripes, to get involved in the fight to keep President Trump from from shoving another radical justice onto the Supreme Court who would side with insurance companies over the American people.

KENTUCKIANS AND FLORIDIANS BECOME THE LATEST VICTIMS OF GOP SABOTAGE

Relatedly, this week Kentuckians and Floridians became the latest Americans forced to bear the the cost of the GOP’s campaign to sabotage affordable health care, with preliminary rate filings for 2019 individual market plans indicating proposed increases as high as 30 percent. Why the leap?

CareSource Kentucky: Rates Going Up Because Of Individual Mandate Repeal. “Additionally, the removal of the individual mandate will increase the overall health risk of the Kentucky marketplace due to plan selection bias. Consumers with the greatest need for health insurance will tend to maintain coverage while healthier consumers may [forgo] coverage. Therefore CareSource will require an increase in premiums in order cover the expected increase in claims costs.” [CareSource, June 2019]

Cigna: “The Most Significant Factors Requiring The [30 Percent] Increase” Include “Elimination Of The Individual Mandate Penalties” And “Anticipated Changes To Regulations Regarding Short Term Medical And Association Health Plans That Will Impact The Affordable Care Act Risk Pool.”[Cigna, 6/20]

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 Kentucky and Florida are being asked to pay the price. 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 Americans.

ALEX AZAR TESTIFIES, DUCKS QUESTIONS ON AMERICANS’ HEALTH CARE PROTECTIONS

On Tuesday, Alex Azar testified before the Senate Finance Committee as his Department, attempting to defend junk plans and failing to address the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs, all while his Administration argued in court that insurance companies should once again discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. Among the questions he refused to answer:

  1. Why haven’t you spoken up to defend people with pre-existing conditions from the Justice Department’s threat?
  2. Will your reverse your stated opposition and support President Trump’s campaign-trail promise on drug cost negotiation?
  3. Insurance companies are citing your Administration’s sabotage as the reason for premium increases, the same argument Tom Price made. Isn’t the tax bill is driving up insurance costs?
  4. Can you estimate how many people with pre-existing conditions will be excluded from coverage under junk plans?
  5. If you finalize the junk plan rule, will you take action to ensure these products must cover essential health care services, such as hospitalization and maternity care?

There was one issue in particular Azar did take a stand on, however, and Senators did not miss it…

SENATE DEMOCRATS HAMMER AZAR OVER PRE-EXISTING CONDITION PROTECTIONS

While Azar re-affirmed his Administration’s support for eroding protections for the 130 million Americans who have pre-existing conditions, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) were quick to make known just how much harm this decision would cause. Take a look:

TWO MORE POLLS AFFIRM AMERICANS’ OPPOSITION TO GOP HEALTH CARE AGENDA

And finally, two more polls underscoring Americans’ support for health care access and opposition to the GOP’s repeal and sabotage agenda were released this week.

Yesterday, the Kaiser Family Foundation released its June tracking poll, showing that health care remains a top issue among voters and that protecting provisions preventing discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions is one of their highest priorities. Among its key findings:

  • Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed say health care is an important issue in the midterms;
  • Three-fourths of those surveyed say continued protections for the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions is “very important” to them, including 88 percent of Democrats, 77 percent of Independents, and 58 percent of Republicans, and
  • Six in 10 say they or someone in their household suffers from a pre-existing medical condition, demonstrating just how important this issue is.

Additionally, new national survey found that the lawsuit filed by Republican state attorneys general seeking to invalidate key consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act is likely to be a serious and significant self-inflicted wound for the GOP. Among its key findings:

  • Two-thirds of all voters nationwide disapprove of the Trump Justice Department’s decision to support the lawsuit, with nearly half of all voters strongly disapproving;
  • Overwhelming majorities of both Democrats (87%) and independents (72%) disapprove of the Trump administration’s actions; and
  • When asked earlier in the survey which party is more likely to ‘make sure people with preexisting medical conditions can get affordable insurance coverage,’ respondents choose Democrats over Republicans by a 63-37 margin.

With Congress returning home for the July 4th recess, Americans are sure to continue to make their voices on health care clear.

This Week in the War on Health Care

While immigration dominated the headlines, Republicans continued their unprecedented assault on the American health care system. Here’s what happened this week in the war on health care – including bipartisan governors and health care advocates loudly standing up to the GOP’s latest actions:

HEALTH CARE REPEAL IS BACK!

Yesterday, Govs. Matt Bevin (R-KY) and Phil Bryant (R-MS) joined with former senator Rick Santorum to announce the latest iteration of the GOP’s health care repeal plan. And no matter how Washington Republicans will try to spin it, it contains the same devastating provisions as previous plans. Among other things, this repeal plan would:

  • Gut protections for pre-existing conditions, forcing people to choose between bankruptcy and staying alive;
  • Let insurance companies charge older people an age tax;
  • Let insurance companies could deny coverage for ‘essential health benefits,’ such as maternity care, prescription drug coverage, and treatment for substance use disorders;
  • End Medicaid expansion;
  • Take away coverage from millions, driving up the uninsured rate; and
  • Give the wealthiest yet another tax break while ending tax credits for while middle-income Americans.

What are Bevin, Bryant, and Santorum’s health records?

  • Matt Bevin has threatened to take health care from 500,000 Kentuckians if courts strike down his work requirements.
  • Phil Bryant opposed expanding Medicaid because recipients go to the doctor too often because they have “nothing else to do.”
  • Rick Santorum compared the ACA to apartheid.

How were Bevin, Bryant, and Santorum greeted when they announced the new plan?

HEALTH CARE ADVOCATES OUT IN FULL FORCE AGAINST GOP REPEAL PLAN

As Govs. Bevin and Bryant and former senator Santorum announced the latest iteration of the GOP’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act at the Hoover Institution, they were greeted by health care advocates demanding they stop their attacks on Americans’ care.

Protesters demonstrating their support for health care access.

Exclusive footage of a man who wants to take away Americans’ health care.

Enough is enough – stop the GOP war on health care.

HOUSE GOP BUDGET PROPOSAL LATEST ATTACK ON AMERICANS’ CARE

On Tuesday, House Republicans released a budget resolution containing massive health care cuts and paving the way for full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The budget came just one day before the six-month anniversary of Congressional Republicans’ trillion-dollar tax scam, when the GOP voted to take health care away from millions of Americans and raise costs on tens of millions more in order to cut taxes for the wealthiest and corporations – but apparently this wasn’t enough.

This budget would pave the way for repealing the Affordable Care Act, slash Medicare and Medicaid, and drastically cut other health programs when what Americans need is relief from the onslaught of GOP health care sabotage. Enough is enough – it’s time for Republicans to end their war on health care.

IGNORING 95% OF HEALTH CARE GROUPS, TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FINALIZES AHP RULE

Also on Tuesday, the Trump Administration announced a finalized rule on association health plans (AHPs), which over 95% 95% of health care experts and advocates opposed. AHPs fail to provide real coverage because they can refuse to cover critical consumer protections like prescription drug coverage, mental health care, and maternity care, and studies show that these types of plans have a long history of fraud and unpaid claims. These garbage health plans are just the latest Trump Administration attempt to undermine and sabotage our health insurance.

  • Not A Single Group Representing Patients, Physicians, Nurses Or Hospitals Voiced Support In The Public Comments. “Altogether, more than 95% — or 266 of 279 — of the healthcare groups that filed comments about the proposed association health plan regulation expressed serious concern or opposed it.” [LA Times, 5/30]

BIPARTISAN GOVERNORS SLAM ADMINISTRATION OVER PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS

It wasn’t just patients, physicians, nurses, and hospitals who opposed the plan, however. This week, nine bipartisan governors released a statement slamming the Trump Administration’s decision to argue that protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions are unconstitutional. The nine governors – including Republican Govs. Brian Sandoval, John Kasich and Larry Hogan, and Independent Bill Walker – all recognize the importance of protecting the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions and the cruelty of the Administration’s recent actions.

These nine bipartisan governors are showing what true leadership looks like – the Administration would do well to follow their lead and reverse their current position.

This Week in the War on Health Care

While celebrity pardons and TV cancellations dominated the headlines, Republicans continued their unprecedented assault on the American health care system. Here’s what happened this week in the war on health care – plus another major victory for the ACA:

IN THE FACE OF OVERWHELMING OPPOSITION, TRUMP DOUBLES DOWN ON SABOTAGE

On Tuesday, President Trump boasted about his Administration’s ongoing health care sabotage during a bill signing, saying that “we will have gotten rid of a majority of Obamacare” in relation to his Administration’s expected rules on short-term and association health plans – on the very same day a new analysis shows unprecedented opposition to both proposals, with over 90% of comments submitted opposing their implementation.And his boast came just days after

  • America’s Health Insurance Plans released a report stating that these rules “would likely increase premiums in the individual market by 1.7% in the near-term and up to 6.6% once these changes are fully implemented”;
  • the Congressional Budget Office released a report predicting that premiums for benchmark plans are expected to increase by 15 percent next year, and 7 percent per year between 2019 and 2028, with Republican sabotage to blame; and
  • the Center for American Progress released a report estimating that premium increases due to these acts of marketplace sabotage would raise benchmark premiums $1,013 nationally on average for a 40-year-old individual.

REPUBLICANS KEEP PUSHING REPEAL

Today, “exclusive details” of the GOP’s new repeal bill were reported in the Washington Examiner. Less than 24 hours after Virginia moved to expand Medicaid, Washington Republicans are touting their latest health care repeal plan, taking health care away from millions of Americans and raising costs for millions more.

Their newest effort is modeled after the worst of last year’s repeal bills, Graham-Cassidy, and guts the very Medicaid expansion Virginia embraced yesterday, ends protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and imposes an age tax on older Americans. Enough is enough – it’s time for President Trump and Congressional Republicans to end their war on Americans’ health care.

RHODE ISLANDERS FACE THE COST OF REPUBLICAN SABOTAGE

This morning, Rhode Islanders became the latest state to reap the costs of the Administration’s repeal and sabotage campaign, with preliminary rate filings for 2019 individual market plans indicating a nearly 10% increase. Why the leap?

Rhode Island Health Insurance Commissioner: Rates “made against the backdrop of continuing uncertainty over federal policy actions around the Affordable Care Act.” [Rhode Island Health Insurance Commissioner’s Office, 5/31]

Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island: “Key drivers of the rate increase include” mandate repeal… “The repeal of the mandate penalty will result in approximately 1.9% increase of premiums.” [Neighborhood Plan of Rhode Island, 5/31]

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 Rhode Island are being asked to pay the price. 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 Rhode Islanders.

VIRGINIA EXPANDS MEDICAID, A SMACK IN THE FACE FOR WASHINGTON REPUBLICANS

This week wasn’t all bad, though!

Yesterday’s vote in Virginia to expand affordable health care access to 400,000 Virginians represents a tremendous step for Virginia’s health care system and its economy and a giant smack in the face to the Trump Administration and the Republicans in Congress who keep pushing an out-of-touch, anti-health-care agenda.

While Republicans keep voting for health care repeal and sabotaging the system, Virginia voters became the latest Americans to demand – and win – expanded coverage. In the four years since states began expanding Medicaid, more than fifteen million Americans have gained coverage, giving these individuals and families control of their health care and providing peace of mind that a medical emergency will no longer result in bankruptcy, or worse.

While it’s unfortunate that Virginia Republicans insisted on imposing work requirements as a precondition for this achievement, the vote highlights growing momentum across the country to expand access to health care. Virginia is the latest state to do the right thing, but it surely won’t be the last.

This Week in the War on Health Care

While foreign policy again dominated the headlines, Republicans continued their unprecedented assault on the American health care system. Here’s what happened this week in the war on health care, plus six new polls underscoring opposition to the GOP health care agenda and a speech not to miss:

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. It found that premiums will be going up double-digits and 5 million more Americans than originally anticipated will lose health insurance, and these negative consequences are happening because of Republicans’ actions:

Washington Post: “The reality is Republicans leading both chambers and the White House have acted in ways that could trigger the rise of premiums.”

CNN: “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.”

CNBC: “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.”

Axios: “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.”

Bloomberg: “One reason for the rising premiums is the actions of President Donald Trump.”

RIGHT-WING GROUPS’ BIG NEW IDEA ON HEALTH REPEAL: LET’S KEEP DIGGING

This week, four right-wing groups urged Congressional Republicans to revive Graham-Cassidy, the GOP’s worst repeal bill. These right-wing groups are counting on Republicans to ignore the will of the American people and amp up attacks on Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. This time, they want an even more destructive bill – one that would slash Medicaid, repeal expansion, and decimate the insurance markets, all while giving insurance and pharmaceutical companies even bigger tax breaks.

It’s time for Jim DeMint and his cronies to get another hobby and give up their obsession with taking away our care.

TRUMP PUTS ADMINISTRATION BETWEEN WOMEN AND THEIR DOCTORS

This week, the Trump Administration dramatically accelerated its attacks on women’s care with new regulations released ahead of the President’s speech at an anti-women’s-health gala. This rule puts Donald Trump between women and their doctors and signals a new phase in the Republican war on women’s health. By banning providers from giving women all the facts about their options and restricting them from getting any services at all from Planned Parenthood and other essential community health providers, this rule is designed to threaten women’s health and restrict access to care.

The Trump Administration continues to pursue a radical anti-women’s health agenda, but this week’s proposal will only strengthen the resolve of the millions of women who have been marching against these attacks since Day One.

FAR FROM FACTUAL: SEN. ALEXANDER LIES, AGAIN

On Tuesday, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) published a comicaly-inaccurate letter to the editor in a last-ditch attempt to duck responsibility for the pain he’s causing American families, the latest example of the Senator’s misleading the public about health care. What did he lie about?

LIE 1: That efforts to stabilize health care markets failed because of Democrats. Republican poison pills on reproductive rights are what killed those efforts – full stop. Democrats continue to make overtures to Alexander on stabilization, but in a letter to lobbyists, he unilaterally declared he was walking away from the negotiating table.

LIE 2: That repealing the Affordable Care Act would have made matters better for anyone. In fact, millions of Americans would have lost their coverage, millions more with pre-existing conditions would have faced discrimination from insurance companies, and premiums would have soared.

LIE 3: That he is a moderate, reasonable, or thoughtful voice on health care. Sen. Alexander’s first priority is always repeal, making him no different from far-right Republicans like the Freedom Caucus or the Koch Brothers.

After this spring’s stabilization farce, Sen. Alexander has spent his last shreds of bipartisan credibility, and his letter indicates people in Tennessee are finally noticing.

TRUMP DRUG ‘PLAN’ COULD PUNISH SENIORS WITH CANCER

Also this week, new research from Avalere and a CBS News investigation exposed the dangers seniors with cancer could face under the Trump Administration’s drug pricing blueprint.

In the simplest terms, this Administration has no answers on how its proposed changes to Medicare would protect seniors from prohibitively high out-of-pocket costs for specialized cancer treatment, and these findings are more proof the Trump Administration’s drug pricing ‘plan’ is a day late and a dollar short. Americans are already worried enough about rising health care costs – the Trump Administration adding to that list by finding new ways to make care more expensive is absurd. In fact…

BATTLEGROUND POLLS FIND VOTERS BLAME REPUBLICANS FOR PREMIUM HIKES

Six new Public Policy Polling surveys in battleground states found that voters are not only blaming Republicans for the expected health care premium increases this summer by 30 points, but they also believe Republicans and President Trump are actively undermining and sabotaging the ACA.

  • In Arizona, 55% of voters will hold Republicans in Washington responsible if rates increase, and 49% believe Washington Republicans and President Trump have been trying to undermine and sabotage the Affordable Care Act, including 57% of independent voters.
  • In Indiana, 49% of voters will hold Republicans in Washington responsible if rates increase, and 48% believe Washington Republicans and President Trump have been trying to undermine and sabotage the ACA, including 48% of independent voters.
  • In Missouri, 59% of voters will hold Republicans in Washington responsible if rates increase, and a plurality (47%) say they believe Washington Republicans and President Trump have been trying to undermine and sabotage the ACA, including 50% of independent voters.
  • In Montana, 55% of voters will hold Republicans in Washington responsible if rates increase, and a plurality (47%) say they believe Washington Republicans and President Trump have been trying to undermine and sabotage the ACA, including 52% of independent voters.
  • In Nevada, 56% of voters will hold Republicans in Washington responsible if rates increase, and 55% say they believe Washington Republicans and President Trump have been trying to undermine and sabotage the ACA, including 59% of voters.
  • In Wisconsin, 59% of voters will hold Republicans in Washington responsible if rates increase, and 53% say they believe Washington Republicans and President Trump have been trying to undermine and sabotage the ACA, including 50% of  independent voters.

Perhaps someone should show these polls to Jim DeMint.

SEN. MURPHY FLOOR ADDRESS CALLS OUT REPUBLICAN RATE HIKES

Yesterday, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) took to the Senate floor to once again call out the GOP’s repeal and sabotage campaign and its effects on Americans’ premiums. As Sen. Murphy said:

“CBO has told you that the repeal of the individual mandate is going to jump premiums by 10%… But because of the actions that were taken here and because of many of the actions undertaken by this Congress, we’re looking at a double-digit increase… So Senate Democrats are going to be down on the floor pretty relentlessly over the course of the next few months to make people understand that as you are getting your health insurance bills, as you are seeing these big increases, a big reason why are the actions that your elected leaders have taken, this Republican Congress and this Administration…

“As I walked across the state of Connecticut last summer, something that I’ve come to do the last few years – I take about five or six days and I walk from one side of the state to the other – health care was the dominant theme. People were waiting for me miles ahead on the road having seen news that I was in a certain town earlier in the day. They waited ahead of me for hours and hours to talk to me about their illness and about their fear that this congress and this President were going to take away their coverage.

“We were successful in defeating the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. And that’s great news because the Affordable Care Act is more popular than ever before. But this Congress and this President are trying to ruin some of the most important protections in our health care system because they’re mad that they lost the repeal vote by one vote. And so it’s important for us to tell Americans what the consequences of that sabotage campaign are. It certainly means that sick people are going to get less protection, but it also means that over the course of the next few months, as rates are filed across the country, you are going to see some devastatingly high premium increases due to the Republican campaign of health care sabotage. This week, 14% in Oregon. Last week or the week before, 91% in Maryland. 64% in Virginia. This is what happens when you strike blows at the American health care system, and it’s important for Americans to understand what’s happening. With that, Mr. President, I’d yield.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

This Week in the War on Health Care

While a debate over Laurel and Yanny raged from coast to coast, Republicans continued their unprecedented assault on the American health care system. Here’s what happened this week in the war on health care, plus two more polls showcasing the massive unpopularity of the GOP sabotage campaign:

REPEAL AGAIN…REALLY?!

This week, Republican Senators once again started talking about reviving the worst of last year’s Republican repeal bills, Graham-Cassidy – apparently with the White House’s support. With the American people having rejected the GOP’s harmful repeal bills over and over again, Washington Republicans’ continued obsession with cutting Medicaid and ending protections for pre-existing conditions shows just how out of touch they are on the number one issue voters care about: health care.

THE COST OF SABOTAGE

On Monday, Protect Our Care launched Rate Watch, an educational campaign highlighting how Republican health care sabotage is forcing up health care costs across the country. As insurance companies’ preliminary rate filings point to Republican sabotage to justify hikes, Americans sat up and took notice:

The Hill: Premium Hikes Reignite The Obamacare Wars. “Democrats argue the price increases are the result of what they refer to as ‘Republican sabotage.’ They contend that, since the GOP controls Congress and the White House, the price hikes are their responsibility — and that’s the message they plan to take into the fall campaign… Protect Our Care, a pro-ObamaCare group, launched ‘Rate Watch’ on Tuesday, a media campaign and website aimed at getting out the Democrats’ message that Republicans are to blame for rate hikes..” [The Hill, 5/15]

Politico: Democrats Run On GOP Health Care ‘Sabotage.’ “Democrats are confidently running on Obamacare for the first time in a decade. They’ve got a unified message blaming Republicans for ‘sabotaging’ the health care law, leading to a cascade of sky-high insurance premiums that will come just before the November midterm elections. They’re rolling out ads featuring people helped by the law. And Tuesday, they’re starting a campaign to amplify each state’s premium increases — and tie those to GOP decisions… ‘Democrats need to prosecute the case against the Republican approach to health care,’ said Brad Woodhouse, campaign director at Protect Our Care and a longtime Democratic strategist.” [Politico, 5/15]

Washington Examiner: Obamacare Supporters Now Seizing On Rate Increases To Go After GOP. “The Obamacare advocacy group Protect Our Care announced its Rate Watch campaign Tuesday that will highlight proposed premium increases for Obamacare’s exchanges for 2019. The group said the goal of the campaign is to tie Republicans to the rate hikes because of moves such as the repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate penalty that everyone have health insurance. ‘This is a purposeful, intentional campaign of sabotage that is making health insurance unaffordable,’ Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said on a call with reporters Tuesday.” [Washington Examiner, 5/16]

VERMONTERS AND OREGONIANS BECOME LATEST VICTIMS OF GOP SABOTAGE

Emphasizing the importance of Rate Watch, this week preliminary rate filings in Vermont and Oregon for 2019 plans were announced, and they included potential double-digit premium increases. Why? Here’s what insurance companies in the two states said:

“Recent federal legislation also eliminated the penalty associated with the individual mandate. As a result, it is expected that a number of healthy individuals will choose to forgo coverage and leave the single risk pool.” [BCBS Vermont, 5/14]

“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 Oregon, 5/14]

“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]

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 Vermont and Oregon are being asked to pay the price. President Trump and Congressional 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 Americans.

NEW STUDY FINDS PREMIUM INCREASES DUE TO GOP SABOTAGE CAMPAIGN

This morning, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a new study which attributed insurance companies’ premium increases to the GOP’s sabotage campaign, namely the repeal of the individual mandate and the embrace of short-term junk plans, and notes that:

However, absent any policy changes, it is likely that insurers would generally have required only modest premium increases in 2018 and in 2019 as well. Insurers are now beginning to file proposed rates for 2019.

As a reminder, the repeal of the individual mandate is expected to increase the uninsured rate by 13 million, and short-term plans have been estimated to raise premiums by 18.2%.

PRESIDENT’S PRESCRIPTION DRUG SPEECH NOT GETTING BETTER WITH AGE

Last Friday, President Trump gave a widely-panned speech on prescription drug pricing. The early reviews were not kind, and the coverage this week was no better. Here’s how the President’s remarks were covered this week:

Washington Post: Trump’s drug price retreat adds to list of abandoned populist promises

Washington Post: The health industry appears unfazed by Trump’s drug pricing speech

Bloomberg: Drug Industry Dodges Its Worst Fears in Trump’s Plan to Lower Prices

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Experts say Trump’s prescription to reduce drug prices is not what the doctor ordered

STAT News: Trump promised to bring pharma to justice. His speech sent drug stocks soaring

SEEMA VERMA ADMITS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WILL LET UNINSURED RATE CONTINUE TO RISE

On Tuesday, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma admitted that the uninsured rate will continue to rise under her Administration’s watch.

Her remarks were only the latest example of the Trump Administration’s 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. And if they don’t…

POLLS IN ARIZONA AND NEVADA CONFIRM: VOTERS SUPPORT THE ACA, OPPOSE GOP HEALTH CARE PLANS

This week, new polls were released in Arizona and Nevada. Most strikingly, the polls found that both Arizonans and Nevadans broadly support the Affordable Care Act over repeal.

From Arizona:

Republican candidates in Arizona running on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act do so at their own peril, according to a poll released Monday. The survey, conducted by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling, shows 33 percent of registered voters were more likely to vote for politicians who support scrapping ObamaCare compared to 46 percent who say they’re less likely. A majority of Arizonans also want to keep the current health law in place and would blame Republicans for health premiums increasing.

And Nevada:

In a poll released this week, most Nevada voters said they would hold Republicans “responsible” if ACA premiums increased this summer, and 53 percent favored fixing the law rather than repealing it and starting over.

Perhaps someone can bring these polls to the next Senate GOP caucus meeting.

This Week in the War on Health Care

While foreign policy dominated the headlines this week, Republicans continued their unprecedented assault on the American health care system. Here’s what happened this week in the war on health care – as well as three op-eds and one poll worth checking out:

UNINSURED RATE UP THANKS TO REPUBLICANS’ WAR ON HEALTH CARE

A new survey from Gallup finds statistically significant uninsured rate spikes in 17 states over the first year of the Trump presidency, attributing the dramatic increase to Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage campaign against the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid.

Health care advocates warned President Trump and Congressional Republicans that their repeated attacks would lead to fewer coverage and higher costs, and these numbers confirm it. Republicans’ war on health care has had a fast and dramatic negative impact, and things will get worse until we can stop these attacks on our care.

PREMIUMS RISE AS INSURANCE COMPANIES DECRY GOP ACTIONS

This week, 2019 rates were officially announced in Virginia and Maryland, and the results are not pretty. Rates in Virginia are slated to rise as much as 64%, while they could go up as much as 91% in Maryland. What’s behind these hikes?

As Cigna said in Virginia:

Factors behind the rate request include “elimination of the Individual Mandate penalties” and “anticipated changes to regulations regarding Short Term Medical and Association Health Plans.” [Fierce Healthcare, 5/10]

And as Kaiser Permanente said in Maryland:

“‘These proposed rates reflect the expected costs of providing coverage for these members, including the impact of eliminating the individual mandate penalty.” [Baltimore Sun, 5/7]

Now more than ever, bipartisan actions to stabilize the marketplace would be valuable. Unfortunately…

SEN. ALEXANDER REFUSING TO WORK WITH DEMOCRATS TO SHORE UP MARKETPLACE

A new report indicated that Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) will refuse to work with Democrats to avoid double-digit rate hikes caused by Republicans’ actions to sabotage health care.

In other words, after blowing up bipartisan talks to alleviate the damaging rate hikes GOP policies are forcing on millions of Americans, Sen. Alexander is now flailing to avoid the consequences of his actions. His ‘dog ate my homework’ finger-pointing is too little, too late.

CHILDREN’S COVERAGE BECOMES THE LATEST FOCUS OF THE GOP’S HEALTH CARE CUTS

Yesterday, President Trump sent Congress a proposal to slash $7 billion from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to patch up the record deficits being inflicted by his tax breaks for big corporations, cuts which would cause a ripple effect of harm to critical health care programs.

Before the Trump presidency the CHIP program earned broad bipartisan support. Now, Republicans in Congress use kids’ health as a bargaining chip Is there no bridge too far for the GOP in their relentless war on our health care?

REPUBLICANS NOMINATE THREE MORE ENEMIES OF HEALTH CARE

On Tuesday night, candidates who have pledged to continue the GOP’s destructive repeal-and-sabotage agenda won Senate primaries in Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia.

  • Ohio Republican Senate nominee Jim Renacci has voted to repeal or tear apart the Affordable Care Act 58 times, including last year’s House repeal bill that would have kicked 23 million Americans off of their health care, spiked premiums, undermined health care and reproductive rights for women, and imposed an age tax on older Americans;
  • Indiana Republican Senate nominee Mike Braun has called for a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, with no plan to replace it; and
  • West Virginia Republican Senate nominee Patrick Morrissey has twice sued the federal government to overturn the Affordable Care Act, most recently joining a February suit to invalidate the law.

In the Senate, these nominees would push a destructive agenda that represents a grave threat to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid, placing millions of Americans’ coverage and access to care at risk. But despite what Renacci, Braun, and Morrissey might say, the majority of the American people are saying louder: enough is enough – it’s time for Republicans to end their war on our health care. In fact, just this week…

OPINION PAGES CALL OUT GOP SABOTAGE

The Washington Post and Minneapolis Star Tribune both published scathing editorials against aspects of the GOP’s prolonged repeal-and-sabotage campaign this week, and a New York Times column made clear the effects of this campaign.

Here’s the Washington Post:

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.

The Star Tribune:

Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed extending the coverage period to roughly a year from about three months…. The savings might dazzle consumers, but ‘Buyer beware!’ ought to be shouted from the rooftops… Short-term plans are cheap because they don’t cover very much. Policymakers pushing these plans ought to be asked if they’d be comfortable relying on them for their families. The only responsible answer is ‘no.’

And the New York Times:

Insurers are already proposing major premium hikes — and they are specifically attributing those hikes to G.O.P. actions that are driving healthy Americans out of the market, leaving a sicker, more expensive pool behind. So here’s what’s going to happen: Soon, many Americans will suffer sticker shock from their insurance policies; federal subsidies will protect most of them, but by no means everyone. They’ll also hear news about declining insurance coverage. And Republicans will say, ‘See, Obamacare is failing.’ But the problem isn’t with Obamacare, it’s with the politicians who unleashed this termite infestation — who are doing all they can to take away your health coverage. And they need to be held accountable.

KAISER TRACKING POLL CONFIRMS: HEALTH CARE A MAJOR ISSUE FOR VOTERS

This morning’s Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll found that health care remains a top issue among voters, as covered by the Washington Times and HealthExec. Among its key findings:

  • 77% of those surveyed said health care was an important issue, with 30% of these voters listing health care costs as the reason why – just as premiums are rising due to GOP sabotage.
  • 19 percent of Independents cited health care a top issue, second only to the economy at 22 percent.
  • Kaiser considers one in four Americans “health care voters,” who “say a candidate’s position on health care will be the ‘most important factor’ in their decision.”
  • Cutting Medicaid and Medicare remains deeply unpopular. As the poll found: “Few partisans – regardless of party identification – say they would be ‘more likely’ to vote for a candidate who wants to reduce government spending on health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.”
  • People are more likely to support candidates who support the Affordable Care Act, and less likely to support candidates who favor repeal.

The Kaiser survey follows numerous recent polls that find health care remains the top issue heading into midterms, including a new CBS poll released Tuesday that finds health care is the most important issue in deciding votes this November.

This Week in the War on Health Care

While Congress was away on recess this week, Republicans continued their unprecedented assault on the American health care system – capped off by the one year anniversary of their vote to take health care away from 23 million Americans. Here’s what happened in the war on health care – and why the past seven days have shown, yet again, that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay:

ONE YEAR AGO: HOUSE REPUBLICANS VOTED TO KICK  23 MILLION AMERICANS OFF OF THEIR INSURANCE

One year ago tomorrow, House Republicans voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The so-called “American Health Care Act” would have kicked 23 million Americans off of their insurance, raised premiums double-digits, gutted Medicaid, and brought back discrimination for those with pre-existing conditions. Following this vote, House Republicans went to the White House to celebrate.

It would have devastated our health care, and ultimately became the most unpopular legislation in three decades before dying in the Senate. And yet…

REPUBLICANS PLOTTING YET ANOTHER ATTEMPT AT REPEAL

This morning, The Hill reported:

Conservative groups are hoping to release a new ObamaCare replacement plan later this month as they try to keep alive the repeal effort. The effort has been led by the Heritage Foundation, the Galen Institute and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who have been meeting at Heritage’s offices, along with other groups, roughly once a week for months….‘The White House fully supports the efforts of a broad coalition working to address the Obamacare disaster and increase affordable healthcare options for middle-class Americans,’ deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement.

Just as Sen. Bill Cassidy did today through a spokesman, every Republican senator who has not called on the GOP to move on from their repeal and sabotage campaign should do so.  Enough is enough – it’s past time for the GOP to end their war on our health care.

SECRETARY TOM PRICE ADMITS GOP SABOTAGE CAUSING PREMIUM INCREASES

On Tuesday, former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price confirmed that President Trump and Congressional Republicans chose a trillion-dollar tax break for corporations and the wealthiest at the expense of hardworking Americans’ health care, repealing the individual mandate to finance a trillion-dollar tax break for the wealthiest and corporations.

Months ago when the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the TrumpTax would raise premiums by ten percent while kicking millions of Americans off of their coverage, Republican senators responded by accusing CBO of bias and dismissing their findings. Now, one of the Trump Administration’s lead saboteurs has admitted the truth: Republicans are responsible for upcoming rate hikes.

NEW SURVEY FINDS: 4 MILLION AMERICANS HAVE LOST COVERAGE SINCE 2016

On Tuesday, the Commonwealth Fund released a new survey which found 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 did this occur? As Axios noted, “Commonwealth attributes the increase largely to the way Congress and the Trump administration has handled the ACA.” And while this development was completely avoidable, Americans are not standing by…

RECLAIM IDAHO SUBMITS 60,000 SIGNATURES TO GET MEDICAID EXPANSION ON THE BALLOT

On Monday, organizers from Reclaim Idaho, in a state which Donald Trump carried by more than thirty points, submitted the more than 60,000 signatures necessary to get a Medicaid expansion vote on the ballot come November.

While Gov. Butch Otter was working to sabotage the ACA, the people of Idaho were working to secure a vote on covering 62,000 more of their neighbors by expanding Medicaid. This week they succeeded, and Republican-governed states would do well to take heed: when you actively work to make your constituents’ health coverage worse, citizens take matters into their own hands.

Congratulations to the people of Idaho! We couldn’t imagine a better way to cap off this year’s Medicaid Awareness Month.

This Week in the War on Health Care

While cabinet officials were coming and going this week, Republicans continued their unprecedented assault on the American health care system. Here’s what happened this week in the war on health care – and two reminders of what its consequences will be:

TRUMP TARGETS NATIVE AMERICANS’ HEALTH CARE

This week, Politico reported the Trump Administration may impose work requirements on Native Americans who have Medicaid coverage. These requirements are burdensome, unnecessary, and expensive to administer, representing nothing more than another form of health care sabotage.

Medicaid is vital to the health and well-being of vulnerable populations, and imposing additional barriers upon Native Americans to access health care is mean-spirited and wrong. It’s time for Congress and the American people to speak out against President Trump’s ongoing war on health care and ensure that policies like these are reversed or don’t see the light of day in the first place.

THOSE WHO KNOW BEST BLAST SHORT-TERM PLANS

Monday represented the final day of the comment period for the Trump Administration’s proposed short-term junk insurance plans. Those who know health care the best – a variety of health care experts, including doctors, insurance exchange operators, insurance companies, analysts, and more than 100 patient groups – blasted the plans. Among those who urged their rejection:

  • American Medical Association: The proposed rule “would result in substandard, inadequate health insurance coverage.” [Forbes, 4/22]
  • American Academy Of Family Physicians: “Short-term, limited-duration plans will not provide meaningful insurance coverage.” [AFP, 4/18]
  • Alliance Of Community Health Plans: “the proposed rule will undermine consumer protections.” [ACHP, 4/19]
  • 21 Patient Groups: “Given the history of discrimination and inadequate coverage within short-term limited-duration plans, we are deeply concerned that the proposed rule could seriously undermine the key principles of access, adequacy, and affordability that are the underpinnings of current law – and put those we represent at enormous risk. [ACS-CAN, 4/23]

The full list of health care experts who expressed their oppositions can be found here.

SEN. SCHUMER PUTS GOP ON NOTICE FOR UPCOMING HIKES

Today on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer 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.

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 can thank one group of people: President Trump and Republicans in Congress. And results at the polls are showing just how thankful folks are…

HEALTH CARE PLAYS DECISIVE ROLE IN ARIZONA SPECIAL ELECTION

On Tuesday night, a telephone exit poll surveyed survey of voters who cast ballots in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District special election. Here’s what polling in this overwhelmingly Republican district found:

  • Health care was a top issue to voters. Health care was ranked as a top issue for 58% of voters, and Democrat Hiral Tipirneni won big especially among these voters, 65-33.
  • Voters said Tipirneni better reflected their health care views. Among all voters, Tiperini won by 2 points, 45-43. Among independents, that gap widened to 30 points, with 57% saying Tipirneni health care views were more in line with theirs to only 27% for Debbie Lesko.
  • Voters were less likely to support Lesko because of the GOP health care agenda. Lesko’s support of the Republican health care agenda made 40% of voters less likely to vote for her and only 33% more likely to support her.
  • Voters favored ACA improvements over repeal. Voters disapproved of the Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act by 5 points, 49-44, and just 41% of voters said the best path forward on health care is to repeal the ACA, while 54% said it should be improved.

As Vox’s Dylan Scott noted, “Republicans should be terrified of health care in the 2018 midterm elections.”