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:
- Why haven’t you spoken up to defend people with pre-existing conditions from the Justice Department’s threat?
- Will your reverse your stated opposition and support President Trump’s campaign-trail promise on drug cost negotiation?
- 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?
- Can you estimate how many people with pre-existing conditions will be excluded from coverage under junk plans?
- 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.