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.