NewsAdministration

This Week in the War on Health Care — February 5-9, 2018

By February 8, 2018March 15th, 2018No Comments

While the budget showdown took up most of the oxygen this week in Washington, the Trump Administration continued its unprecedented assault on the American health care system.

Meanwhile, despite the relentless sabotage, 11.8 million people nationwide signed up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces during this year’s open enrollment. Experts estimate that 1.1 million more could have signed up if Trump’s HHS hadn’t attacked outreach funding.

While most of us were focused on cars in space and the stock market, here’s a summary of what happened this week in sabotage – and how Americans are fighting back:

A NEW LOW IN THE WAR ON MEDICAID

On Monday reports emerged that the Trump Administration is considering a new low in their war on Medicaid: lifetime limits on coverage. The Affordable Care Act stopped insurance companies from imposing lifetime limits on coverage, freeing Americans from arbitrary limits on their care. The re-institution of these limits could punish Medicaid enrollees simply because their longtime employer doesn’t offer insurance or because they got sick or have a disability and lost their job, threatening the health and well-being of millions of Americans and leaving large swaths of the population with nowhere to turn.

And with Medicaid covering one-fifth of substance abuse treatment nationwide and playing a “central role,” in attempts to combat this crisis, this proposal could make things even worse.

MEANWHILE, SUPPORT FOR MEDICAID EXPANSION GROWS IN STATES

In stark contrast to the Administration’s near-constant attacks on Medicaid, medical professionals continue to assert the benefits of the popular program and states from coast to coast are moving forward with attempts to expand it.

In North Carolina, a children’s advocacy organization released a new report arguing that Medicaid expansion could reduce the state’s fetal and infant mortality rates, endorsing the bipartisan expansion proposal currently under consideration in the state legislature. Grassroots movements are underway in Nebraska, Utah, Missouri, and Idaho to put Medicaid expansion on state ballots in 2018. Just three weeks ago, Oregon voters supported a legislative package funding the state’s Medicaid program. And back in November, Maine voters overwhelmingly approved Medicaid expansion in the state.

All of which is to stay: people want expanded access to coverage. And if there were any doubts …

OPEN ENROLLMENT BLOWS EXPECTATIONS OUT OF THE WATER

Despite more than a year of sabotage from President Donald Trump, his Administration, and Congressional Republicans, 11.8 million Americans, including 2.5 million new enrollees, purchased 2018 health insurance through Affordable Care Act marketplaces – 96% of last year’s total. These Americans did so in the face of rampant obstacles put in their way, from a shortened sign-up period to the President declaring the law ‘dead,’ and did so for one reason: they want and need the quality, affordable coverage they can get from the Affordable Care Act . Here’s how health care experts and media outlets described this year’s open enrollment period:

NBC News: “Despite Trump, Obamacare Records Strong Enrollment.” [NBC News, 2/7/18]

Kaiser Family Foundation: 11.8 Million People Signed Up “Amid Steep Reductions In Federal Funding For Outreach In Navigators, An Enrollment Period Half As Long, And A Climate Of Political Uncertainty Surrounding The Law.” [KHN, 2/7/18]

Los Angeles Times: The Numbers “Suggest Surprising Strength In Many Markets Across The Country.” [Los Angeles Times, 2/7/18]

The Hill: The Numbers “Show The Obamacare Remains Stable In The Face Of ‘National Uncertainty.’” [The Hill, 2/7/18]

Associated Press: “Enrollment Remained Remarkably Stable Despite President Donald Trump’s Disdain For ‘Obamacare,’ And Repeated Efforts By The Republican-led Congress To Repeal The Program.” [AP, 2/7/18]

Washington Post: “Enrollment Was Surprisingly Resilient.” [Washington Post, 2/7/18]

Washington Times: “Interest In The Exchanges Outpaced Last Year On A Day-To-Day Basis.” [Washington Times, 2/7/18]

Bloomberg: “President Donald Trump Has Frequently Been Accused Of Trying To Undermine Obamacare, His Predecessor’s Signature Health Law. New Data Show That By At Least One Measure He Didn’t Do A Particularly Good Job Of It.” [Bloomberg, 2/718]

Larry Levitt, Kaiser Family Foundation: “If You Had Asked Me A Year Ago Whether Enrollment For 2018 Would Be Almost Equal To 2017, I Would Have Laughed At You.”  [AP, 2/7/18]

Mark Hall, Wake Forest University Professor Of Law And Public Health: “Despite The Trump Administration’s Effort To Undermine The Affordable Care Act, Its Basic Structure Remains Solid.” [Winston-Salem Journal, 2/7/18]

Trish Riley, National Academy For State Health Policy Executive Director: “This Shows Consumers Really Want And Need Coverage.”[Los Angeles Times, 2/7/18]

Allison O’Toole, MNSure Chief Executive: “We Had The Best Open Enrollment Period We Have Ever Had.” [Los Angeles Times, 2/7/18]