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This Week in the War on Health Care

By April 5, 2018No Comments

Despite the Congressional recess, this week, Republicans continued their unprecedented assault on the American health care system. Here’s what happened in the war on health care – and why, despite these efforts, the past seven days showed the Affordable Care Act is here to stay:

IOWA REPUBLICANS PRIORITIZE INSURERS’ PROFITS OVER IOWANS’ HEALTH

On Monday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed legislation allowing for the sale of association health plans and ‘benefit plans’ which don’t meet Affordable Care Act requirements, taking Iowa back to the days when insurers could discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions and refuse to cover essential health benefits, paving the way for even higher premiums and further market destabilization.

In an editorial, “Elected officials undermine Iowans’ health insurance,” the Des Moines Register Editorial Board condemned the GOP’s efforts:

“The bill clears the way for the creation of unregulated, undefined health insurance exempted from ACA mandates. These mandates include requirements on insurers to cover hospitalization, prescriptions, preventive care and other health services people need. The new plans would not be considered ‘insurance’ and therefore would not be subject to state and federal rules… Sen. Mark Chelgren, R-Ottumwa, was among the biggest supporters of this insurance free-for-all. ‘We have tried this before,’ he said, referring to the days before the enactment of Obamacare. ‘This was how the system worked.’ Oh brother. Yes, senator, we have tried this before. This is how the system used to work. It was an unmitigated disaster and the driving force behind Congress crafting health reform.”

HIDDEN COSTS OF SABOTAGE – QUANTIFIED

On Tuesday, new Kaiser Family Foundation polling was released, confirming Americans’ mounting anxiety about ongoing GOP health care sabotage. Key takeaways included:

  • About half the public believes ACA marketplaces are “collapsing,” including six in ten of those who purchased marketplace coverage. While this reflects the ongoing uncertainty caused by President Trump and Congressional Republicans, it contradicts what the President’s own economic advisors have confirmed about the stability and strength of the individual market.
  • Because of Republican sabotage, the number of people who are “very worried” or “somewhat worried” that rate hikes will make coverage unaffordable has skyrocketed to 67%, compared with 38% in October 2017.
  • One-third of  individual market shoppers say the individual mandate was a “major reason” they bought insurance, with one in ten saying they will not buy coverage without it. With research indicating those most likely to drop coverage are young people, the CBO forecasts average yearly premiums in the nongroup market will increase by 10% over the next decade.

Despite everything the GOP has thrown at it, the Affordable Care Act still protects every American with health insurance and provides millions of previously uninsured people with coverage – and Americans recognize and appreciate this.

TRUMP’S OWN POLLSTERS FIND ACA POPULAR, HEALTH CARE COSTS TOP VOTERS’ MINDS

New polling from America First, compiled by President Trump’s own pollsters, found lowering the cost of health care to be the top issue voters want addressed in 2018, and these voters favoring fixes to the Affordable Care Act over repeal by a 47 to 34 percent margin.

With President Trump’s own pollsters finding that keeping the ACA has a double-digit advantage over repeal and rising health care costs are the number-one issue on voters’ minds, it couldn’t be more clear that the Republican war on health care is failing. The GOP would do well to finally start listening to the American people who continue to say: enough is enough – end the war on our health care.

ENROLLMENT NUMBERS CONFIRM ACA’S STAYING POWER

This week also saw the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services release the final open enrollment numbers for 2018, which showed that 11.8 million people nationwide bought marketplace coverage.

For nearly a year, the Trump Administration carried out a rampant, unprecedented sabotage campaign against open enrollment, which included cutting the advertising budget by 90 percent, halving the enrollment time, and denying help for people trying to obtain coverage.

But millions of Americans rely on the ACA for quality, affordable coverage, and they made sure to obtain coverage in spite of partisan fear mongering and numerous obstacles placed in their way. The American people don’t want to go back to a time when insurers could deny them health care for having a pre-existing condition or be priced out of the market based on their age, gender, or medical history – and continued attempts to undermine the law will only be met with further resistance.