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Trump Archives — Page 2 of 15 — Protect Our Care

Trump’s Speech: “A Desperate Attempt to Mask Republican Efforts to Gut Protections For Preexisting Conditions And Allow Insurance Companies to Deny Coverage for Prescription Drugs.”

Another PR Stunt that Will Do Little to Bring Down Costs for Americans

Remember: Health Repeal Bills and GOP’s ACA Lawsuit would Repeal Prescription Drug Coverage for Millions of Americans; Junk Plans Pushed by Trump Don’t Require Any Prescription Drug Coverage

 

Washington, D.C. – Ahead of President Trump’s latest effort to hide the truth of the Republican war on health care, Leslie Dach, chair of Protect Our Care, released the following statement:

 

“Donald Trump’s speech fails the one in four Americans struggling to afford the prescription drugs they need. Today’s speech flouts  Trump’s campaign promise to let Medicare negotiate drug pricing for drugs sold in pharmacies, and it does nothing to change the fact that Trump and Republicans called for, voted to, and are now suing to repeal the requirements in current law that prescription drugs are covered in insurance plans.

 

“Between their efforts to repeal prescription drug coverage in Congress and the courts and their work to push junk plans that don’t cover prescription drugs, Trump’s posturing on drug prices is as outrageous as Trump’s professed care and concern for people with pre-existing conditions. Making this announcement 13 days before an election where health care is the number one issue to voters just goes to show the desperation of a president who has led a GOP war on health care and who promised prescription drug price cuts, while drug costs go up for Americans at the same time drug company profits  skyrocket.”

BACKGROUND:

 

 

  • After Trump Promised Prescription Drug Price Cuts, Costs Went Way Up. In May, President Trump promised that prescription drug price cuts would be coming in “two weeks.” Months later, the Financial Times reported that several drugmakers raised their prices significantly, including double-digit increases in many cases, and an analysis by the Associated Press found “there were 395 price increases and 24 decreases” in the wake of the announcement and “the two dozen cuts were up from the 15 decreases in those same two months last year.”

 

 

  • Drug Prices Continue To Soar Under Trump. From January 1 to July 31 of this year, the Associated Press found there were 96 price hikes for every price cut this year. A recent report by Senate Democrats finds that the prices of the 20 most-prescribed drugs under Medicare Part D have increased substantially over the past five years, rising 10 times faster than inflation. Another report from the Pharmacy Benefits Consultants finds that over the past 14 months, 20 prescription drugs saw list-price increases of more than 200 percent.

 

 

  • Trump’s Previous Announcement Was Described As A “Big Win” For Big Pharma. In May, President Trump gave a speech billed as a major policy initiative to lower prescription drug costs. The phony speech was described as everything from a “big win” for pharmaceutical companies to him “[backing] out of his own plan to make drugs cheaper.” Said one drug lobbyist: “A lot of this [stuff] is meaningless to satisfy Trump.”

 

 

 

  • Drug Companies Using Windfall From GOP Tax Scam To Pad Investors’ Pockets. In February, Axios reported that America’s largest pharmaceutical companies were 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.”

 

 

 

  • Trump Installed Big Pharma Executives In Key Administration Posts. President Trump installed a former Eli Lily executive, Alex Azar, as his secretary of Health and Human Services and his appointment of Scott Gottlieb at FDA was described as “music to pharma’s ears.” Other pharma lobbyists writing Trump’s health policy include senior adviser at FDA, Keagan Lenihan, who joined the administration after lobbying for the drug distribution giant McKesson, former Gilead lobbyist, Joe Grogan, who reviews health care regulations at the Office of Management and Budget, and Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy Lance Leggitt, who has lobbied for a variety of drug-industry clients.

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

Additional Background:

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

How Their Votes Would Harm People in Pennsylvania

 

Total Repeal of the ACA Would Eliminate:

What would full repeal of the Affordable Care Act eliminate?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

HealthCare.Gov Sabotage, Version 2.0

Scheduled Site Maintenance During Open Enrollment Period is Latest Act of Trump-GOP Health Care Sabotage  

Washington, D.C. – The upcoming open enrollment period will share certain features of last year’s: a drastically shortened schedule, deep cuts to marketing and outreach budgets, and – according to media reports from today – the Trump administration will again be shutting down HealthCare.gov on the first day of open enrollment, as well as five out of the six Sundays during the upcoming open enrollment period (November 1, 2018 through December 15, 2018). In total, HealthCare.gov – which is used by millions of people in 38 states – will be down for more than three full days during a truncated open enrollment period. In response, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement:

 

“There can be no doubt that the Trump Administration literally wants to stand in between people and the health care coverage they need, since they are once again purposely shutting down the website people need to use to sign up for coverage at the very time when they need it most. This cynical move comes after the Trump Administration cut the open enrollment period in half, slashed advertising by ninety percent, exacted drastic cuts to the Navigator program all while asking them to be mouthpieces for junk insurance plans. It’s shameful.”

 

HERE ARE ALL THE WAYS THE GOP HAS SABOTAGED OPEN ENROLLMENT

 

  • In July, the Trump Administration slashed funding for non-profit health navigator groups that help people shop for coverage, from $36 million to $10 million. CMS encourages groups to use the remaining funds to push people to sign up for junk plans that skirt important consumer protections.
  • In April, the Trump Administration limited access to assistance for consumers who want to enroll in marketplace coverage. This change removed the requirement that every area has at least two “navigator” groups to provide consumer assistance and that one be local. Now, just one group could cover entire states or groups of states.
  • In October 2017, The Trump Administration dramatically cut in-person assistance to help people sign up for 2018 health coverage.
  • Last September, the Administration ordered the Department of Health and Human Services’ regional directors to stop participating in Open Enrollment events. Mississippi Health Advocacy Program Executive Director Roy Mitchell said, “I didn’t call it sabotage…But that’s what it is.”
  • Last August, the Administration cut the outreach advertising budget for Open Enrollment by 90 percent, from $100 million to just $10 million.
  • Last July,the Trump Administration used funding intended to support health insurance enrollment to launch a multimedia propaganda campaign against the Affordable Care Act.
  • In April 2017, the Trump Administration cut the number of days people could sign up for coverage during open enrollment by half, from 90 days to 45 days.
  • On Trump’s first day in office, the Department of Health and Human Services began to remove information on how to sign up for the Affordable Care Act.
  • Also in January 2017, the Trump Administration pulled funding for outreach and advertising for the final days of 2017 enrollment. This move is estimated to have reduced enrollment by nearly 500,000.

California is the Latest State to Fight Trump’s Expansion of Junk Plans

While The Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress Push Junk Plans, States Join Health Care Advocates and Congressional Democrats in Fighting Back

 

Washington, D.C. –  While the Trump Administration continues its efforts to attack people with pre-existing conditions and sabotage health care through the expansion of junk insurance plans  — and Republicans in Congress refuse to join their Democratic colleagues in the Senate and House in stopping them — the state of California joins other states in protecting its residents from dangerous ‘junk’ plans through new legislation signed into law Saturday.

Going one step further in its rebuke of the Trump Administration’s disastrous health care policies, California also enacted new legislation protecting Californians against the Trump Administration’s scheme to reduce Medicaid coverage by imposing rigid work requirements. This is a win for health care, as these work requirements have proven to be impossible for many of those most in need of health care coverage to meet.

Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care issued the following statement in response to the growing fight against junk plans:

“While Trump and his Republican allies take a sledgehammer to health care, it becomes even more important that states like California and others step up and protect our care, which is exactly what the American people want our leaders to do. The reasons that officials are fighting Trump’s junk plans in the states, that health care advocates are fighting them in court, that Democratic health care champions in Congress are fighting them on the Hill are simple: these junk plans are allowed to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, they are not required to cover key benefits, such as cancer treatments and prescription drug coverage, and they deceive consumers by refusing to pay for costs after a person gets sick. Since these insurance plans truly are ‘junk’ and have a long history of scamming people who need health care coverage the most the real question is why Donald Trump thinks he can call himself a protector of people with pre-existing conditions at the same time that he and his allies in Washington are pushing junk plans onto the American people?”

 

Insurance Commissioners From Coast to Coast Have Spoken Out Against Short-Term Junk Plans:

Dave Jones, California Insurance Commissioner: “Of Course They’ll Be Less Expensive…That’s Because It’s Junk Insurance And It Won’t Cover The Same Things.” [HuffPost, 8/5/18]

Jessica Altman, PA Insurance Commissioner: The Administration Isn’t Talking About How Limited These Plans Are. “I’m frustrated with how [administration officials] are presenting this…They’re saying, ‘Here’s this option that’s affordable and wonderful,’ and not talking about how limited the plans are…You can look at one of these plans and you’ll see it covers doctors, hospitals, maybe even drugs, and so you think it will have everything I need…You won’t realize that the amounts are caps, or have exclusions ― it’s really difficult to expect that consumers will be able to figure out what all of this means, and really know what they are getting.” [HuffPost, 8/5/18]

PA Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman Has Already Revoked The Licenses Of Eight Brokers Or Agents Misrepresenting Short-term Plans. “In Pennsylvania, Altman said she has already revoked the licenses of eight brokers or agents who had been misrepresenting short-term plans.” [The Hill, 8/12/18]

TN Insurance Commissioner, Julie Mix McPeak Is Concerned About Whether Consumers Fully Understand The Plans They Buy. “‘We have to really make sure consumers know what they’re purchasing, and they’re aware of what’s covered and what’s not covered,’ Mix McPeak said. ‘The last thing we need is for consumers to have surprise bills.'” [The Hill, 8/12/18]

Lori Wing-Heier, Director Of Alaska Insurance Division: “I’m Concerned That People Will Buy These Policies, Show Up At The Hospital For A Condition They Did Not Expect, And Discover They Are Not Covered.” [HuffPost, 8/5/18]

Lori Wing-Heier, Director Of Alaska Insurance Division: Under Short-Term Plans, Insurers May Use Information You Submit In Good Faith To Deny Coverage. “You fill out the form, the medical forms, you think you are being honest about your history, and then the insurers go through your records and find something that you didn’t think was an issue, your doctor didn’t think was an issue, but now the insurer is saying it’s a pre-existing condition.” [HuffPost, 8/5/18]

Michael Conway, Colorado Interim Insurance Commissioner: People May Read Warnings, But Not Understand How Bare-bones These Plans Really Are. “They may read [the warning], but that’s not the same as understanding it…Because of the ACA, now people think the baseline has changed ― that certain things are always covered.” [HuffPost, 8/5/18]

Troy Oechsner, Deputy Superintendent At New York Department Of Financial Services: “These Are Substandard Products.” “‘These are substandard products,’ sold on the premise that ‘junk insurance is better than nothing’ for people who cannot afford comprehensive coverage, Troy J. Oechsner, a deputy superintendent at the New York Department of Financial Services, told the insurers.” [New York Times, 8/6/18]

View Protect Our Care’s factsheets on short term junk plans and association junk plans for more information.

 

Trump and Hawley Lie About Their Record on Pre-existing Conditions Protections

Washington, DC Following a campaign stop with Josh Hawley, President Trump continued to

flat-out lie about his Administration’s plan to gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions.  Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, said in response:

“It’s ludicrous for Donald Trump to say he and Josh Hawley want to protect people with pre-existing conditions when they have literally gone to court to take those protections away. Just last month, Hawley said replacing the ACA would be “a top priority” for him in the Senate and right now Donald Trump is in the process of jamming a rubber stamp on his anti-health care agenda on the U.S. Supreme Court. Republicans like Josh Hawley and Donald Trump  present a real and present danger to the health care of Americans and people don’t need to look any further than their own words and actions for proof.”

Cities Sue Trump Administration Over ACA Sabotage

Yesterday, four cities — Baltimore, Chicago, Columbus, and Cincinnati— filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration for intentionally sabotaging the Affordable Care Act.

Here’s how the lawsuit has been received nationally:

NBC News: Suit Seeks To Force Trump To Adopt Policies To Expand Rather Than Shrink Enrollment. “The suit seeks to force Trump to adopt policies intended to expand rather than shrink enrollment; reduce rather than increase premiums; and promote instead of attack the ACA. Among the specific rules plaintiffs seek to reverse are allowing exchanges to strip individuals of tax credits without notification and reducing oversight of insurance agents and brokers, as well as oversight of the law in general.” [NBC News, 8/2/18]

Fortune: “Trump Broke Constitutional Law By Attacking Obamacare, Lawsuit Says.” “Since Congress failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act last year, President Donald Trump has attempted to weaken the program through eliminating protections, discouraging enrollment, and driving up costs, the lawsuit argues. According to court filings, this directly violates a clause in the U.S. constitution, which states the president and their administration must ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’” [Fortune, 8/2/18]

Esquire: “Consequences Be Damned.”: “[T]he administration’s ongoing attempt to sabotage the Affordable Care Act has led folks into interesting places. For example, four cities are now suing the president on the grounds that, in the case of the ACA, the president is in violation of his oath of office, and of Article II of the Constitution…The lawsuit got some ammunition on Thursday when the Brookings Institute released a study concluding that insurance premiums would have gone downhad the president and his party simply allowed the law to work.”

The Hill: Four Cities File Lawsuit Saying Administration’s Sabotage of ACA Violates Constitution. The cities of Baltimore, Chicago, Columbus and Cincinnati filed the lawsuit in federal court in Maryland, arguing that Trump’s actions against the Affordable Care Act violate the Constitution’s provision that the president ‘shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’ The lawsuit points to a range of administration actions in arguing its case, including that it expanded insurance options that do not comply with the health-care law’s rules, that it cut funding for outreach to help people sign up for coverage, and that it shortened the sign-up period for ObamaCare.” [The Hill, 8/2/18]

Talking Points Memo: Cities Cite Trump Effort To Ways Trump Has “Depressed Health Insurance Enrollment And Driven Up Costs For Both Individuals And Taxpayers. Cities filed a lawsuit on Thursday accusing the Trump administration of violating the “Take Care” clause of the Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act by chipping away at the Affordable Care Act in ways that have depressed health insurance enrollment and driven up costs for both individuals and taxpayers.” [Talking Points Memo, 8/2/18]

What experts have to say:

Andy Slavitt, Former Administrator of CMS: The ACA Lawsuit Will Be Yet Another Test Of The Rule Of Law For A President Who Seems To Have Very Little Regard For Those Constraints.” The ACA lawsuit will be yet another test of the rule of law for a president who seems to have very little regard for those constraints. It coincides with two major political events that highlight the issues at stake. First up is Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearing, where he will be questioned extensively about his views on the limits of presidential authority. Then, fewer than 100 days away, are midterm elections that will put the ACA front and center; polls show access to health care is a top item on voters’ minds.” [USA Today, 8/2/18]

Abbe Gluck, Yale Law Professor: “If There’s Ever Going To Be A Violation Of The ‘Take Care’ Clause, This Is It.” “This case stands apart from all others, says Abbe Gluck, a Yale University law professor and expert on Article II, because it’s not about the extent to which Trump is “faithfully” implementing a law. Rather Trump has been frank that he is sabotaging the law, she said. ‘That’s what makes this case novel, first of its kind and really important,’ Gluck said. ‘No scholar or court has ever said the president can use his discretion to implement a statute to purposely destroy it…If there’s ever going to be a violation of the ‘take care’ clause, this is it,’ she said.” [NBC News, 8/2/18]

Abbe Gluck: “It Is Impossible To Recall A President Who Has Been As Clear About His Intent To Sabotage A Major Federal Law As This President Has Been About His Intent With Respect To The ACA.” “Historically, making the case for a violation of the take care clause has been a tall order because the executive is often vested with broad discretion to implement the law. But it is impossible to recall a president who has been as clear about his intent to sabotage a major federal law as this president has been about his intent with respect to the ACA.” [Vox, 7/23/18]

And here’s how cities have reported the news:

WCPO Cincinnati: Cincinnati Says Trump Administration Sabotage Is Costing City. “That’s costing the cities more money to pay for services that provide medical care to those who are uninsured or underinsured. In Cincinnati, for example, the city health department subsidizes various health centers with an annual budget of $23 million. The number of uninsured patients who visited those centers already increased by 11 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to the lawsuit.” [WCPO Cincinnati, 8/2/18]

Columbus Dispatch: Columbus Citing How Much Sabotage Is Costing City, Leads Suit Against Trump Administration Over Affordable Care Act. Dismantling the Affordable Care Act will directly affect the city’s budget because it will result in more uninsured Americans, [Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein] said. The city provides about $4.3 million a year to Primary One, a federally qualified health center that Klein said has seen 3,000 more uninsured patients in the past year. It also will hit the city’s fire department, which takes about 132,000 medic runs a year. The city seeks to recoup costs from insurance companies if the patient has insurance, typically recovering about 40 to 80 percent of its costs, Klein said. For uninsured patients, the city sends a bill but doesn’t send unpaid bills to collections, he said. For uninsured patients, the recovery drops to an average of 4 percent.” [Columbus Dispatch, 8/2/18]

Columbus Resident, Denise Jacobs, Depends On ACA For Life Supporting Drugs. “Denise Jacobs is one of the people in Columbus that Klein says received help from the ACA. Jacobs was diagnosed with intersitial lung disease, and after many medical treatments and a lung transplant, she now uses anti-rejection drugs to help with her transplant. Jacobs says she’s worried about what the end of Obamacare may do to people like her. ‘Some people like me may have trouble affording their life supporting drugs,’ says Jacobs.” [WOOSU, 8/2/18]

Baltimore Mayor Emphasizes Cost Of Sabotage On Baltimore. “[Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh]  said the Baltimore City Fire Department treated 17,000 people last year who did not have health insurance. ‘As a result, you know, that’s uncompensated care and we’ve got to take care of individuals. We don’t turn people away from our hospitals, we try to take care of them. This is a cost the city cannot afford to bear,’ Pugh said.” [WBAL TV, 8/2/18]

Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago Joins Lawsuit, Highlights Burden Of Trump Sabotage On Chicago. “An increase in the number of uninsured or under-insured residents would ‘force Chicago to pay more to operate and subsidize’ public health clinics and put a greater strain and ‘unrecouped costs’ on the Chicago Fire Department’s newly-expanded fleet of 80 ambulances, the city contends.” [Chicago Sun-Times, 8/2/18]

New Lawsuit Seeks to Hold Trump Administration Accountable For Deliberate Sabotage and Higher Health Care Costs

Cities and Citizens Stuck with Higher Health Care Costs Maintain that the Trump Administration is Intentionally Violating its Constitutional Duty to “Faithfully Execute” the Affordable Care Act

Lawsuit Brings Danger of Kavanaugh on the Court into Sharper Focus

Washington, D.C. – Today, several cities stuck with higher health care costs and individuals saddled with astronomical premiums due to President Trump’s health care sabotage filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration for violating its constitutional duty to “take care” that the Affordable Care Act be “faithfully executed.” The plaintiffs argue that the Trump Administration is actively and intentionally destabilizing the exchanges, decreasing enrollment and in turn driving up premiums and the uninsured rate, which leaves municipalities and families holding the bill.

“This lawsuit makes clear what we’ve known all along, that President Trump is violating his constitutional duties by intentionally sabotaging the Affordable Care Act. From day one President Trump has said he wants the Affordable Care Act to fail and each day since he has gloated about his efforts to destroy the law. His illegal actions are increasing the cost of health care and taking away coverage from millions, all while insurance companies’ profits skyrocket. Today’s lawsuit also brings into sharper view exactly why a vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh is a vote to overturn our health care: Brett Kavanaugh has criticized previous Supreme Court decisions protecting the Affordable Care Act and has said he believes the president can disobey the law. President Trump must implement the law in good faith and be held accountable for his actions.”    

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S UNPRECEDENTED SABOTAGE CAMPAIGN

January 2017

  • On his first day in office, President Trump signs an Executive Order directing the administration to identify every way it can unravel the Affordable Care Act.
  • Also on January 20th, the Department of Health and Human Services begins to remove information on how to sign up for the Affordable Care Act.
  • The Trump Administration pulls funding for outreach and advertising for the final days of 2017 enrollment. This move is estimated to have reduced enrollment by nearly 500,000.

February 2017

  • The Trump Administration proposes a rule to weaken Marketplace coverage and raise premiums for millions of middle-class families.

March 2017

  • The Trump Administration sends a letter to governors encouraging them to submit proposals which include provisions such as work requirements that make it harder for Medicaid beneficiaries to get affordable care and increase the number of people who are uninsured.

April 2017

  • The Trump Administration cuts the number of days people could sign up for coverage during open enrollment by half, from 90 days to 45 days.
  • In an effort to convince Democrats to negotiate a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, President Trump threatens to cut off cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs) that help low-income marketplace customers pay for out-of-pocket costs.

May 2017

  • House Republicans vote for and pass a health care repeal bill that would cause 23 million people to lose coverage and gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions. It would have imposed an age tax and allowed insurers to charge people over 50 five times more for coverage and ended Medicaid as we know it, putting the care of seniors, children and people with disabilities in jeopardy.

June 2017

  • Senate Republicans embark on a monthslong failed attempt to pass BCRA, Skinny Repeal and Graham-Cassidy, all repeal bills that would have caused millions of Americans to lose their health coverage and raised premiums by double digits for millions more. They would have ended Medicaid as we know it, putting the care of children, seniors and people with disabilities at risk.

July 2017

  • The Trump Administration uses funding intended to support health insurance enrollment to launch a multimedia propaganda campaign against the Affordable Care Act.
  • President Trump, again, threatens to end cost-sharing reduction payments.

August 2017

  • The Administration cuts the outreach advertising budget for Open Enrollment by 90 percent, from $100 million to just $10 million – which resulted in as many as 1.1 million fewer people getting covered.

September 2017

  • The Administration orders the Department of Health and Human Services’ regional directors to stop participating in Open Enrollment events. Mississippi Health Advocacy Program Executive Director Roy Mitchell says, “I didn’t call it sabotage…But that’s what it is.”

October 2017

  • The Trump Administration takes direct aim at birth control by rolling back a rule that guaranteed women access to contraception. (A court has since questioned the legality of the action.)
  • President Trump signs an Executive Order to roll back key consumer protections that will result in garbage insurance, raise premiums, reduce coverage and again expose millions of Americans to discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.
  • The Trump Administration dramatically cuts in-person assistance to help people sign up for 2018 health coverage.
  • After threatening for months to stop funding cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs) that help lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, the Trump Administration stops the payments altogether. The CBO finds that failing to make these payments will increase premiums by 20% and add nearly $200 billion to the debt.

November 2017

  • Republicans refuse to move forward on the bipartisan Alexander-Murray bill to address the CSR crisis even though it had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

December 2017

  • The Trump Administration proposes a rule to expand association health plans, which would gut consumer protections, raise costs for people with pre-existing conditions and further destabilize the insurance markets.
  • Congressional Republicans pass their tax scam, which doubles as a sneaky repeal of the Affordable Care Act  by kicking 13 million people off of their insurance and raising premiums by double digits for millions more.

January 2018

  • The Trump Administration announces that it will support states that impose onerous work requirements on Americans covered by Medicaid, and approves Kentucky’s worst-in-the-nation waiver the next day.
  • The Trump Administration announces a move to allow providers to discriminate by allowing them to deny patient care for almost any reason.
  • The Trump Administration makes plans to announce even more exemptions from the requirement people have health coverage before this provision is repealed altogether.

February 2018

  • The Trump Administration announces that it will expand access to short-term health plans that do not have to comply with key consumer protection provisions required by the Affordable Care Act.
  • Urban Institute calculates that repeal of the individual mandate and expansion of short term plans will increase individual market premiums by an average 18.2 percent in 2019.
  • Trump Administration releases budget that calls for the Affordable Care Act to be replaced by Graham-Cassidy, in a move that experts predict would reduce health coverage for 32 million Americans.

March 2018

  • Republicans sabotage efforts to pass a bipartisan bill that would have stabilized Affordable Care Act marketplaces by insisting the bill restrict access to abortion.

April 2018

  • House Republicans vote on a balanced budget amendment that would cut Medicaid by $700 billion over ten years, $114 billion in a single year alone.
  • Trump Administration limits access to assistance for consumers who want to enroll in marketplace coverage. This change removes the requirements that every area has at least two “navigator” groups to provide consumer assistance and that one be local. Now, just one group could cover entire states or groups of states.

May 2018

  • President Trump boasts about health care sabotage: “We will have gotten rid of a majority of Obamacare.”
  • Trump Administration enlists help of former drug lobbyist in writing its drug plan.
  • Congressional Republicans attempt to use annual farm bill to authorize $65 million in taxpayer funding to set up association health plans, which can  exclude prescription drug coverage, mental health care, and maternity care.

June 2018

  • Department of Justice takes to the courts to argue that insurance companies should be able to discriminate against as many as 130 million Americans with a pre-existing condition.
  • Republican coalition, the Health Policy Consensus Group, released their latest proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions, let insurance companies charge older people an age tax, and deny coverage for basic services like maternity care.
  • Trump Administration finalizes proposal to expand access to association health plans that skirt key consumer protections

July 2018

  • CMS halts risk adjustment payments, that enable insurance companies to cover everyone, regardless of whether they are healthy or sick.
  • Trump Administration slashes funding for non-profit health navigator groups, that help people shop for coverage, from $36 million to $10 million. CMS encourages groups to use the remaining funds to push people to sign up for junk plans that skirt important consumer protections.
  • President Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh has previously forced a young woman to continue a pregnancy against her will and has criticized Justice Roberts for upholding the Affordable Care Act’s constitutionality.

August 2018

  • Trump administration finalizes rule for bare-bones short-term plans that are exempt from key consumer protections, such as the requirement that insurance covers prescription drugs, maternity care, and hospitalization.

“Cheap for A Reason”: Outcry Against Trump’s Junk Plan Proposal

This morning the Trump administration announced its decision to allow junk plans that can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, that are not required to cover key benefits, such as cancer treatments and prescription drug coverage, and that can refuse to pay for costs by claiming that you had a pre existing condition you didn’t tell them about.  

News coverage has called the administration’s actions out for what they are: a blatant move to dismantle protections for people with pre-existing conditions and undermine the Affordable Care Act.

Headlines paint a telling picture:

  • HuffPost: Horrible Health Insurance Now Legal Again, Thanks To Trump. [HuffPost, 8/1/18]
  • Bloomberg: Short-Term Health Plans Backed By Trump Are Cheap For A Reason. [Bloomberg, 7/31/18]
  • Associated Press: Officials Are Promoting Lower-Cost, Short-Term Health Plans. [Associated Press, 8/1/18]
  • New York Times: ‘Short Term’ Health Insurance? Up To 3 Years Under New Trump Policy. [New York Times, 8/1/18]
  • San Diego Union-Tribune: Trump Administration Widens Availability Of Skimpy, Short-Term Health Plans. [San Diego Times-Union, 8/1/18]
  • Politico: Trump Whacks Obamacare By Boosting Short-Term Health Plans. [Politico, 8/1/18]
  • Washington Post: Trump Administration Widens Availability Of Skimpy, Short-Term Health Plans. [Washington Post, 8/1/18]
  • Los Angeles Times: Trump Administration Moves To Further Expand Skimpy Health Plans. [Los Angeles Times, 8/1/18]
  • NPR: Under New Rules, Cheaper ‘Short-Term’ Health Care Plans Now Last Up To Three Years. [NPR, 8/1/18]
  • Governing: Trump Administration Loosens Restrictions On Skimpy, Short-Term Health Plans. [Governing, 8/1/18]
  • Kaiser Health News: Trump Administration Loosens Restrictions On Short-Term Health Plans. [Kaiser Health News, 8/1/18]
  • The Cut: Trump’s New Insurance Rules Put Women And Children At Risk. [The Cut, 8/1/18]

Reporters have been quick to note that these plans will hurt consumers…

Los Angeles Times: Expanding Short-Term Plans Is Opposed By Nearly Every Patient Advocacy Organization In The Country. “Expanding short-term plans also risks driving up costs for Americans with preexisting medical conditions who need more comprehensive benefits…Among the groups that have opposed the Trump administration’s moves are virtually every leading patient advocacy organization in the country, including the American Lung Assn., the American Heart Assn., the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the March of Dimes, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Susan G. Komen, AARP and the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society.

HuffPost: Short-Term Plans Provide Junk Coverage And Drive Up Costs Of Comprehensive Care. “Meanwhile, those seeking out comprehensive plans because they want or need them will discover those policies have gotten more expensive, thanks to the way short-term plans will affect the rest of the insurance market. Some insurance shoppers will have serious, even life-threatening diseases, such as cancer, which will mean their insurance must have a full set of benefits. But those kinds of policies will become more expensive than they can afford. [HuffPost, 8/1/18]

Bloomberg: Cheaper Plans “Can Come At A Cost.” “For some people, though, the cheaper premiums can come at a cost, such as when insurers claim that a cancer treatment shouldn’t be covered because a patient had the disease before buying coverage, as Bloomberg reported in October.” [Bloomberg, 7/31/18]

Short-Term Plans Sometimes Impose Unexpected Rules, Like For Instance Refusing To Cover Hospitalizations During The Weekend.There may be other strange rules. A review of some plan documents from Families USA found an Illinois plan that would cover only hospitalizations beginning during the week — inpatient stays that began on the weekend would not be allowed except in rare circumstances. Some plans had waiting periods for care. Cancer treatment, for example, is not covered in certain plans during the first month a person is enrolled in a plan, and no treatment for illness is covered in the first five days. That’s the kind of detail that might be easy to overlook when signing up for a plan if you aren’t expecting a cancer diagnosis.” [New York Times, 8/1/18]

….financially benefit insurance companies….

With Short-Term Plans, Insurance Companies Can Spend Less Money On Medical Care. “According to research from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the average short-term plan in 2017 spent less than 65 percent of premium dollars on medical care. Some of the short-term plans in the association’s analysis keep more than half of all premiums as overhead and profit.” [New York Times, 8/1/18]

Brokers Tend To Make Higher Commission On Short-Term Plans. “Brokers also tend to make higher commissions on the short-term plans, since the companies share a cut of their larger profits to get referrals. According to eHealth, a national online brokerage, a typical Obamacare-compliant plan pays a commission of around 5 percent, while short-term plans pay out commissions closer to 20 percent. Because short-term plans are currently limited to 90 days, brokers now make more money selling comprehensive plans that cover more benefits. But that math may shift as short-term plans expand their duration under the new rule, giving brokers a stronger financial incentive to sell short-term plans instead.” [New York Times, 8/1/18]

…and are designed to undermine access to affordable, comprehensive care.

Huffington Post: “The New Rules Represent One Of The Most Consequential Steps That President Donald Trump And His Republican Allies Have Taken In Their Campaign To Dismantle The 2010 Health Care Law Known As Obamacare.” [HuffPost, 8/1/18]

Washington Post: Making It Easier To Buy Plans That Circumvent The Law Part Of Trump’s Strategy To Undercut The ACA.“Making it easier to buy health plans that avoid the law’s protections is part of a strategy being employed by Trump and his aides of relying on executive powers to undercut aspects of the law, whose demolition has been one of Trump’s central goals since his 2016 campaign.” [Washington Post, 8/1/18]

San Diego Union-Tribune: Plans Are “Devised To Foster Low-Price Insurance That Circumvents The Affordable Care Act’s Coverage Requirements And Consumer Protections.” “The new rules are the second tool the administration has devised lately to foster low-price insurance that circumvents the Affordable Care Act’s coverage requirements and consumer protections. In June, the Labor Department issued rules that will make it easier for small companies to buy a type of insurance known as association health plans and, for the first time, allow them to be sold to people who are self-employed…Both can have bigger price differences between older customers and younger ones. But only the short-term plans can also charge higher prices to customers with medical conditions that require care, deny them coverage, or avoid covering health problems that a customer had before buying the insurance — all practices that the ACA bans.” [San Diego Times-Union, 8/1/18]

Five Ways the Trump Administration is Dismantling Medicaid and Medicare

Today marks the 53rd anniversary of Medicaid and Medicare, two crucial health programs that serve as a lifeline to more than one-third of Americans. Despite the essential health care services these programs provide 125 million people, President Trump and Congressional Republicans have worked to dismantle Medicaid and Medicare. Here’s how:

  1. As the cost of drugs skyrocket, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress will not allow Medicare to negotiate for better prescription drug prices. Under current law, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is explicitly prohibited from negotiating directly with drug manufacturers on behalf of Medicare Part D enrollees. Although it would decrease both federal spending and beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs, a policy allowing the federal government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries was noticeably absent from President Trump’s recent prescription drug announcement.

  2. President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have repeatedly tried to slash funding for Medicaid and impose per-capita caps on coverage. Last year, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) repeal bill, which included a per capita limit on federal Medicaid spending that would have resulted in huge cuts to Medicaid across states. After failing to pass the AHCA in the Senate, Republicans have continued to launch relentless attacks on Medicaid. Last December, the Trump Administration budget called for $1.4 trillion in cuts to Medicaid.

  3. The Trump Administration is encouraging states to impose work requirements and other bureaucratic restrictions on Medicaid enrollment in order to deny coverage. Experts warn that work requirements are fundamentally bureaucratic hurdles designed to restrict access to health care rather than increase employment. Previous examples show that requiring enrollees verify their employment or work-related activities will reduce enrollment among those eligible for Medicaid.

    Requiring people to work to maintain Medicaid coverage is particularly burdensome for older adults. Less than half of American adults ages 55 to 64 work. Some are retired, and for many others, chronic health conditions make it difficult to maintain steady employment.

  4. President Trump and Congressional Republicans are targeting Medicaid to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest. Last December, President Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax bill that disproportionately benefits the wealthy. How do Republicans plan on paying for it? Speaker Ryan’s answer is clear: “Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt.” In an attempt to pay for these tax cuts, in April, House Republicans passed a budget amendment that would slash Medicaid funding by $114 billion in a single year alone.

  5. Congressional Republicans have also repeatedly voted to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest by cutting funding for Medicare. The 2018 budget resolution passed by Republicans in December 2017 cut Medicare by $473 billion and more recently, the FY2019 budget passed by Republicans on the House Budget Committee cuts Medicare by an additional $537 billion.

As we celebrate this important health care anniversary, Protect Our Care calls on our leaders to protect health care for our most vulnerable and end their assault on the health and wellbeing of the millions of Americans who rely on Medicare and Medicaid.

###

SHOT/CHASER: President Trump Doubles Down on Absurd Claims About Non-Existent Health Care Plans

During remarks given yesterday in Iowa and again today at the White House, President Donald Trump touted his junk association health plans (AHPs). There were just a few problems:

SHOT:  

Trump:  Association Health Plans Are Doing “Record Business.”  “Alex Acosta has come up with incredible healthcare plans through the Department of Labor — association plans where you associate, where you have groups and you get tremendous healthcare at a very small cost.  And it’s across state lines; you can compete all over the country. They compete. They want to get it. And, Alex, I hear it’s like record business that they’re doing. We just opened about two months ago, and I’m hearing that the numbers are incredible.  Numbers of people that are getting really, really good healthcare instead of Obamacare, which is a disaster.” [Donald Trump, Remarks at Workforce Development Roundtable, Peosta, IA, 7/26/18]

Trump Said “Associated Health Plans” Have “Just Opened” And “Millions Of People Are Going To Be Signing Up.”  “Through associated health plans we are giving Americans the ability — just opened — millions of people are going to be signing up. Millions and millions. Much better and more affordable healthcare, including bidding across state lines.” [Donald Trump, Press Availability, Washington, DC, 7/27/18]

CHASER:  

Association health plans won’t even go on sale until September and they’re already being described as “kind of a flop” as major associations decline to participate and 11 states filed suit to challenge the rule for undermining the protections of the Affordable Care Act.

HEADLINE:  “Trump Touts Demand For Healthcare Plans That Don’t Exist Yet.” [Washington Examiner, 7/27/18]

HEADLINE:  “Trump Celebrates ‘Record’ Sales of Nonexistent Health Insurance Policies” [Huffington Post, 7/27/18]

HEADLINE:  “States Sue Trump Administration Over Association Health Plans”  [Politico, 7/27/18]

HEADLINE:  “Trump Says New Health Plans, Not Available Until September, Already Doing ‘record Business’” [The Hill, 7/26/18]

HEADLINE:  “Trump’s Association Health Plans Are Kind Of A Flop” [Vox, 7/20/18]

HEADLINE:  “Trump Promised Them Better, Cheaper Health Care. It’s Not Happening.”  [Politico, 7/19/18]