The Trump Administration continued its unprecedented assault on the American health care system this week. Here’s what happened this week in Republicans’ war on health care – and how polls and rallies across the country showed the Administration is fighting a losing battle with the American people:
SABOTAGE STRIKE ONE: 18% PREMIUM INCREASES AND “THE HEALTH OF MILLIONS” AT RISK
Last week, the Trump Administration announced a proposal to move forward with short-term, junk insurance plans – the Administration’s latest form of sabotage. On Monday, a bombshell Urban Institute study found that these short-term junk plans will cause an average premium increase of 18 percent in 43 states, making clear just how high the cost of the GOP’s sabotage efforts will be for Americans.
The Urban Institute wasn’t the only entity which questioned these plans, however. They were also savaged by the nation’s leading editorial boards:
Washington Post: This Trump Administration Health-Care Rule Would Return Us to the Bad Old Days. “The department’s plan would allow insurance companies to sell virtually unregulated health policies. This would signal a return to the bad old days when insurers could sharply limit benefits, impose caps on coverage and discriminate against people with preexisting conditions… Allowing healthy people to buy junk insurance plans is not worth risking sick and vulnerable people’s access to real coverage.” [2/26/18]
New York Times: Trump Tries to Kill Obamacare By a Thousand Cuts. “Not mentioned in the department’s talking points is the fact that these policies do not cover things like mental health services, substance abuse treatment, cancer drugs and maternity care. As a result, people who buy skimpy plans could end up being hit with exorbitant bills if they actually need medical care… The cost for [the Administration’s] rage will be the health care of millions of low-income and middle-class families.” [2/21/18]
Los Angeles Times: The Trump Administration Wants to Cut Premiums for the Healthy at the Expense of the Sick. Again. “These plans don’t have to comply with Obamacare’s insurance reforms, which means they typically provide much less coverage — and that they may not be as cheap, or as available, for people with preexisting conditions. Oh and yes, it would likely cost the taxpayers more.” [2/26/18]
Baltimore Sun: Trump’s Latest Effort to Undermine the ACA Makes Maryland Action All the More Crucial. “If the Trump administration’s goal was to increase the ranks of the uninsured, it could scarcely have thought of a better policy than the one it announced Tuesday… Coupled with the end of the federal requirement that most taxpayers buy insurance or pay a penalty, the administration has come up with a recipe for destabilizing individual insurance markets and putting coverage out of reach for those who really need it.” [2/20/18]
Bloomberg View: A New Way to Wreck Obamacare. “Don’t be misled by the seeming modesty of this idea. It’s an impressive combination of bad policy and bad faith… If the courts fail to stop the change to short-term health insurance, states ought to step in, [place] their own time limits on short-term policies, and demand that such plans cover the health care people need. Sadly, people in states that won’t provide this protection will be left waiting for leaders in Washington who will.” [2/23/18]
SABOTAGE STRIKE TWO: PREMIUM INCREASES AND FURTHER MARKET DESTABILIZATION
Last month, the Department of Labor proposed a rule promoting association health plans (AHPs). This week, Avalere released a new study which found that this proposed rule would cause premiums for individual and small-group plans to rise 4% and reduce Affordable Care Act plans enrollment by as many as 4.3 million, further destabilizing the marketplace.
It was the second study in three days to conclude the sabotage agenda being pushed by Donald Trump and his Administration will have massive negative consequences on Americans’ care.
SABOTAGE STRIKE THREE: LESS CONFIDENCE AND LESS COVERAGE
For more than a year, the Trump Administration and its GOP allies in Congress have been carrying out an extensive sabotage campaign designed to harm the Affordable Care Act. While many analyses have found the effect this has had on premiums and the open enrollment period, a new report from the Commonwealth Fund analyzed another aspect of this sabotage: its effect on consumer confidence.
“Among survey respondents who were extremely pessimistic about their ability to maintain their marketplace or Medicaid coverage going forward,” the report found, “nearly half pointed to actions by the Trump administration and Congress as the main source of their unease.”
Additionally, the report found that those with insurance through the ACA marketplace or Medicaid were “significantly less likely” to have confidence that they would be able to keep their insurance, with 32 responding it was because “they didn’t think the Trump administration would carry out the ACA” and 15 percent “[expecting] Congress to repeal the law.”
“Last year’s debate over the ACA likely affected some uninsured adults’ decisions not to shop for marketplace coverage,” the report continued, noting 26 percent of those asked said they did not because they thought the law was going to be repealed, underscoring the effects this sabotage campaign has had.
The report’s conclusion? “As our findings suggest, policy changes could increase coverage, including greater outreach and advertising in all states and reforms to improve plan affordability.” The most specific suggestion: Medicaid expansion “remains the most obvious means for expanding coverage nationwide.” We agree! Now if only President Trump and the GOP would listen…
STUDY CONFIRMS: MEDICAID A LIFELINE FOR OPIOID ADDICTION DESPITE FALSE RHETORIC
Yesterday, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released an analysis showing that states which expanded Medicaid saw higher rates of insurance coverage for people with opioid-use disorders.
As President Trump hosted a White House summit to address the opioid crisis, this analysis made clear that Medicaid is a lifeline for those battling the scourge of opioid addiction, further undercutting false GOP claims about the program and showing that Republican plans to gut the Medicaid program would have disastrous ramifications for the millions of Americans courageously doing so. If they truly care about ending this crisis, President Trump and GOP Members of Congress should end their partisan war on health care and immediately call for the expansion of Medicaid in states which have not done so.
POLLS CONFIRM: ACA MORE POPULAR THAN EVER, MEDICAID IS WORKING, HEALTH CARE TOP ISSUE ON VOTERS’ MINDS
This morning, the February Kaiser tracking poll came out, finding that 54% of those surveyed had a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act, the highest proportion supporting the ACA in the nine years the poll has been conducted. The poll also found that:
- The ACA favorable view rose from 50 percent in January 2018 to 54 percent this month, a change “largely driven by independents.”
- More than twice as many voters mention health care costs (22 percent) as mention repealing/opposing the ACA (7 percent) as the top health care issue.
- 74% of those surveyed had a favorable opinion of Medicaid, while 52% believed the Medicaid program is working well for most low-income people covered by the program.
- 64% of independents oppose lifetime limits for Medicaid benefits.
- A larger share of the public believes the proposed Medicaid changes are to reduce government spending (41 percent) than to help lift people out of poverty (33 percent).
This follows a Tuesday poll from CNN, which found that health care remains voters’ top priority, with 83% of those surveyed listing it as either extremely or very important. Other findings included:
- 53% of voters said health care was extremely important, the highest among all issues – a 20% increase from the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted in August of 2010, when health care supposedly dominated the midterm elections.
- 78% of independent voters said health care was important, which tied with the economy as their top issue.
- At least 70% of voters in every demographic category said health care was important – a trend that stretches across gender, age, income level, education level, ideology, and party affiliation.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: AMERICANS ACROSS THE COUNTRY FIGHT BACK
More than what polls can show, however, is the grassroots momentum sweeping the country against the Trump Administration’s sabotage. Over the past week, health care advocates of all backgrounds came together in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia to launch the Enough is Enough campaign. The campaign calls on voters to tell their Senators that the GOP war on health care and attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act must end.