It’s time to fight Trumpcare 2.0

Remember way back in history, five weeks ago, when we successfully fought the House bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and strip healthcare from 24 million Americans?

Well, here we go again. The latest version of the bill is even worse than Trumpcare 1.0, and will likely come up for a vote on April 28.

Some of the finer points of this new bill:

  • Takes us back to the dark days when people with pre-existing conditions like diabetes and cancer couldn’t get health insurance. The plan would allow insurers to charge more to people who are sick, leading to premium increases upwards of tens of thousands of dollars for coverage that is unlikely to meet their health care needs.
  • Allows states to get rid of the essential health benefits, which would roll back the clock to the days of skimpy plans without coverage for maternity care, substance use disorders or mental health services. This means, for example, that women will have to pay more for coverage that actually meets their health care needs.
  • Unbelievably, Congress has chosen to exempt themselves and their staffs from key provisions of this damaging bill. If it’s not good enough for them, why is it good enough for the people they represent?
  • The new plan also keeps intact draconian cuts to Medicaid, jeopardizing care for millions of low-income seniors, people living with disabilities, children and low-income parents.

Recommended script when you call your representative in the HOUSE:

Good [morning/afternoon]. My name is [NAME] and I live in [CITY/TOWN], [STATE]. As a constituent, I think it’s critical for all people to have affordable and high-quality health coverage, so I strongly oppose efforts to repeal the ACA. 

[OPTIONAL BUT HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: ADD 2-3 SENTENCES ABOUT YOUR OWN PERSONAL STORY AND WHY THIS ISSUE IS IMPORTANT TO YOU]

The latest health care repeal plan would not only raise premiums and cause millions of people to lose coverage, it would allow insurance companies to deny coverage for basic health services like maternity care or prescription drugs, and it would gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions. It also exempts members of Congress and their staff. If it’s not good enough for you, it’s not good enough for me.

I’m asking that you oppose this plan.

Additional resources

ACA REPEAL SCHEME IS BACK WITH A NEW, TERRIBLE TWIST (CPPP)

ADMINISTRATION, CONGRESS CONSIDERING MORE DAMAGING NEW TWIST ON ACA REPEAL: TEXAS IMPLICATIONS (CPPP)

Community Catalyst

Social Media Graphics

Why is the ACA repeal bill not good enough for Congress?

Latest ACA repeal bill would charge women more

 

 

 

How Your Voices Made a Difference Last Week: Nunes, Bannon & Rice – Oh My!

Courtesy of 5 Minute Activism

  • Susan Rice. This may seem like an odd “positive” to cite, but consider that the trumped-up (pun unavoidable) accusations Donald and conservatives are levying against a national security adviser doing exactly her job is one of the clearest signs yet that Donald is terrified as the Russian noose tightens around his neck–and he’s desperate to do anything he can to divert attention from his own potentially illegal, treasonous actions.

    Here’s the short story: Rice is “accused” of asking intelligence agencies to “unmask” (or remove from redaction) the names of American citizens incidentally captured on surveillance of known Russian actors. To draw a comparison, let’s say that the FBI captures a conversation between a known foreign operative and an American citizen who is offering to procure weapons for an enemy nation. Normally the name of Americans inadvertently captured are “masked” to respect their privacy, but in a case like this, of course the name of the American in question would be of great, acute, extremely germane interest to national security and intelligence. Is it a kook making empty promises, or a true threat to our national security: an American selling weapons to our enemy?

    That’s the well-established (and quite common) precedent Rice would have followed if indeed she did ask for the unmasking to the president and a very limited group of direct security advisers of Americans colluding with Russia in interfering in our elections. Here’s an excellent and more in-depth explanation in The Atlantic, and one in the NYTimes.

    But the short story is, how damning facts were revealed is of far less importance to ongoing criminal investigations into the Trump administration than the actual info revealed, and Donny can try his hardest to redirect, but our intelligence agencies will continue to “unmask” any involvement he and his associates may have had in colluding with Russia. And that’s good news indeed that you can cheerfully share with anyone who tries to fan up an argument based on this White House-distributed distraction propaganda.

  • Health care: Thanks to constant pressure from citizens like you, plans by Mike Pence and the far-right Freedom Caucus for a draconian new health care plan that would have allowed states to opt out of the coverage requirements imposed on insurers — including mental health, maternity services, and substance abuse services, and to also opt out of the law’s requirement that insurers cover people with serious diseases and pre-existing conditions–died another death this week. If your MoCs are the moderate Republicans being “blamed” for resisting substandard health care “reform,” call and say thank-you!

  • Donald’s conflicts of interest: In a scathing letter, a major investment fund fired its elite law firm, Morgan Lewis, for its role in enabling Donald Trump to use the presidency to line his pockets by approving his flimsy attempt to imply that he had divested himself of his business interests.

Trump, Congress Considering More Damaging New Twist on ACA Repeal: Texas Implications

This is a cross-post by Stacey Pogue of Center for Public Policy Priorities

Media reports indicate that President Trump and Congressional Republicans are working to revive their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with the same harmful provisions plus two new ones. States would be able to opt out of “essential health benefits” and the requirement that health plans not charge people more because they are sick.

This new approach, if adopted, would completely undermine the popular ACA provision ensuring that people with pre-existing conditions can’t be denied coverage. It is meaningless if you are technically offered coverage by an insurer if the plan doesn’t cover your health conditions, or it is sold at an astronomical price that only the wealthiest can afford. This approach will make cheaper, bare-bones coverage available to healthy individuals, but it will prevent people who actually need health care from getting good and affordable coverage.

Essential Health Benefits

“Essential health benefits” are the minimum standards for coverage that must be included in certain types of health insurance – plans sold to small employers and in the “individual market,” – plans sold directly to consumers who do not have job-based coverage.  Essential health benefits include basic and necessary categories of care as: hospitalization; maternity and newborn care; mental health and substance use disorder care; prescription drugs; and emergency room services.

If a state opts out of essential health benefit protections, insurers will once again get to pick and choose what to cover. Insurers will drop comprehensive benefit to help attract the healthiest (and cheapest to cover) customers. Benefits that will most likely be cut back are: maternity services; prescription drugs; mental health and substance use disorder services; rehabilitative care; and pediatric dental and vision care. Families who lack coverage for critical services will once again bear the full financial weight for illness and injury, and many will be unable to afford needed health care.

Before essential health benefit protections were in place, coverage in the individual market was much more limited than job-based coverage.

  • In Texas before the ACA, there were no policies for sale in the individual market that included maternity services and maternity was not always included in small employer plans. The average charge for pregnancy care and delivery for women with private insurance is more than $32,000 for a vaginal birth and $51,000 for a caesarean section without complications. Few families could absorb these enormous costs if insurance failed to include maternity coverage.
  • Mental health coverage also was often excluded, or else very limited. Nationally, before the ACA, 34 percent of individual market consumers did not have coverage for substance abuse services, and 18 percent did not have coverage for mental health services.
  • Nationally, before the ACA, one of five people enrolled in the individual market had no prescription drug coverage, compared with just one in twenty in the employer market.
  • Coverage of rehabilitative services, particularly important to children who need to learn developmentally appropriate skills was often limited before essential health benefit protections.

Community Rating

One of the most popular and well-known provisions of the ACA is that people with pre-existing conditions can’t be denied health coverage. Mentioned less often, but just as important, is that people with pre-existing conditions also cannot be charged more because they are sick. This is called “community rating” in insurance jargon, and it means that everyone pays the average price regardless of health conditions. If the ACA repeal bill ends community rating, it will resurrect a historic form of discrimination. People with pre-existing conditions will be unable to afford premiums, even if they are technically offered a plan.

Access isn’t the same as coverage. You may technically have access to a Ferrari, but that doesn’t mean you can afford to buy one.

In Texas, we know a bit about how dramatically higher prices can climb without community rating. Before the ACA, small employers technically had to be offered a plan even if they had sick employees, but there were few restrictions on how much groups could be charged. The Texas Department of Insurance collected data on both the average per-person premium charged to small employers and the maximum per-person premium charged to small employers. In 2006, insurers generally reported average per-person premiums of $3,000-$4,000, and maximum per-person premiums of $20,000-$30,000. One insurer reported an average per-person premium of $2,700 and a maximum possible per-person premium of $62,000. Our history in Texas shows clearly that a guaranteed “offer” of coverage with no pricing protections is essentially meaningless.

Return to the bad old days

The state options approach being discussed in Congress is a bad deal for Texans. It will place coverage out-of-reach for those who need it most.

How Your Voices Made a Difference Last Week: Saving the Affordable Care Act

Really, let’s just revel in the one big fat win of the week: No ACA repeal. Despite having control of literally every aspect of government right now, Trump and the Republicans in the House couldn’t come up with a better plan, or unite themselves enough to reach agreement.

This is hopeful for so many reasons:

  • We keep a health-care system that provides coverage for nearly all Americans. Planned Parenthood isn’t defunded. The disabled, mentally ill, and addicted retain access to services. Women retain basic health care coverage.
  • It shows that Donald’s influence isn’t nearly what he asserts it to be—despite direct involvement and exhortations to both sides of Republican resistance, he failed at the art of the deal—largely because, as a historically unpopular president who lost the electoral vote more bigly than any other president, his threats to turn lawmakers’ constituents against them have no stinger. That means he has a lot less power and control than he’d like America (and Congress) to believe—and that means we can expect ever more pushback from moderate Republicans who are beginning to realize that the tide has turned and that political expediency involves listening to their constituents—us—rather than Donald.
  • Finally, it shows that our voices are have power. Keep calling. It makes a difference.

Action Alert: Call MoCs to Save ACA

ALERT! Two committees in the House appear to be planning to jam through legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act next Wednesday, March 8.  Call HOUSE REPS—especially Bill Flores if you are in TX-17—and ask them not to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

I am calling to ask my representative to vote NO on the repeal of the ACA and the mandates which help Obamacare function. The ACA has made it possible for 20 million more Americans to get health insurance, and reduced the uninsured rate to the lowest in history, and made health insurance within reach of 17.6 million people. We should not return to the time when a family was an illness away from bankruptcy, and taxpayers had to pay $75 to $125 BILLION dollars for uncompensated emergency-room visits. Please vote NO on repealing the ACA/Obamacare without plans for a replacement.

This is especially important if your rep is on the House Ways and Means or Energy and Commerce Committee. These are the committees planning to vote Wednesday.

Texas Representatives on the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

  • Joe Barton  (R) – Vice Chairman
  • Michael Burgess (R)
  • Pete Olson (R)
  • Bill Flores (R)
  • Gene Green (D)

Texas Representatives on the House Ways and Means Committee

  • Kevin Brady
  • Sam Johnson (R)
  • Kenny Marchant (R)
  • Lloyd Doggett (D)

Read our deep-dive on the ACA.

And if you are in Austin on Monday, attend the Rally to Protect Health Care: Cover Texas Now! Advocacy Day

URGENT #txlege Opportunity for Action on Jan. 31

URGENT! TEXAS SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE HEARING ON HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, JANUARY 31, 2017!

UPDATE: We just received word that this hearing will recess sometime around 10:30 am, and will likely reconvene some time after NOON. Please plan your day accordingly if you plan to attend to give testimony.

PLEASE RSVP and plan to join us at the Capitol on Tuesday starting at 9 a.m. in room E1.036!

Texans targeted by drastic cuts to the state’s health and human services (HHS) budget (Article 2) need your support on January 31st!

If you think Texas should have a robust Medicaid program, strong supports for children with special needs, provide services to adults with disabilities so they can work and live full lives, and don’t want the Texas legislature to slash funding, SHOW UP.

Come to the Capitol and show your support for resisting the Senate’s proposed budget. We need folks who can:

  • Attend the hearing and keep the room full to show our support for halting cuts to Medicaid
  • Sign up to give oral testimony (more details to come in comments below)
  • Write and turn in written testimony (more details to come in comments below)
  • Speak with the media about how cuts to the state’s Medicaid budget harm them and/or their families.

BACKGROUND:
The committee is taking public testimony on the HHS section of the Senate Budget put forth by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Sen. Jane Nelson. The Senate budget includes nearly half a billion dollars in cuts to health and human services, which would devastate medical care and services that Texas children and families rely on. The Senate bill also fails to provide funding to cover Medicaid for the full two years of the next budget.

People who will be harmed by these cuts include:

  • Children who get their health insurance through Medicaid
  • People with disabilities
  • Low-income seniors, and
  • Pregnant women

Your presence and your testimony can make a difference for millions of Texans.

Unite against Tom Price – or we all pay the price in future healthcare costs

“We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.”

From Maya Angelou’s “Human Family”

If you’ve been paying attention to the news and social media lately, Angelou’s sentiment about our similarities may seem questionable at the moment. We appear to be a nation deeply divided on the majority of issues. To complicate matters further, the press, the pundits, and the politicians sow even more discontent by perpetually highlighting these divisions. No one seems to be able to agree on how to right the ship and sail on to a more prosperous America for all.

However, one of the things that we are mostly united about is the importance of quality, affordable healthcare for everyone.

  • The Pew Research Center recently published a report concluding that sixty percent of Americans believe that the government “should be responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans, compared with 38% who say this should not be the government’s responsibility.”
  • Additionally, in a poll evaluating healthcare priorities for 2017, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) reports that 67% of Americans believe that lowering out-of-pocket healthcare costs is a top priority for the incoming administration.
  • 61% also think that a reduction in the cost of prescription drugs should be a top priority, according to the same KFF study.

These statistics, along with the growing movement to save the Affordable Care Act, indicate that we are not as divided as it may seem. Constituents in both Aurora, Colorado and Spokane, Washington gained national attention by gathering at public events and demanding answers to their healthcare concerns. Despite this growing unification, the incoming administration continues to push repeal. The Congressional Budget Office reports that the repeal will have the opposite effect of what most of us want – in fact, it will result in the loss of coverage for many and the increase in premiums for all.

Tom Price, Trump’s nominee for the department of Health and Human Services, has been an outspoken critic of the ACA. He even authored a bill devised to repeal it. Of further concern is his voting record and stance on reproductive rights. Mr. Price’s policies do not reflect those of the majority of Americans.

It is vital that we keep the pressure on our elected officials to block these nominations and save the Affordable Care Act. Call John Cornyn , Ted Cruz , and your local representative . If you’re at a loss for words, be sure to use the excellent scripts provided here. If possible, organize a group to meet with your representatives about the serious healthcare issues facing us as Texans.

Kendall Shearman

Audio from #SaveACA Conference Call Available

Thanks to everyone who was able to join the call last night, and to our guest speakers.

This week Congress voted to move forward with the process of instructing Committees — including the House Ways and Means Committee chaired by Texas Congressman Kevin Brady — to begin writing up repeal legislation that would go around the normal Senate filibuster process.
Congressional leaders are still aiming to get the repeal legislation to the President’s desk by February 20th.

Many Texas representatives will play important roles in drafting the repeal legislation. Two committees are responsible for the legislation–Ways & Means and Energy & Commerce. Is your member of Congress on this list?

Way & Means:

(D) Lloyd Doggett TX-35 RANKING MEMBER

(R) Kevin Brady TX-8, CHAIR

Ways & Means Health Subcommittee:

(R) Sam Johnson TX-3

(R) Kenny Marchant TX-24

Energy & Commerce

(R) Pete Olson TX-22

(R) Bill Flores TX-17

Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee

(D) Gene Green TX-29, RANKING MEMBER

(R) Michael Burgess TX-26, CHAIR

Joe Barton TX-6

Additional Texas ACA Resources

Defending Health Care in 2017: What Is at Stake for Texas (FamiliesUSA)

Get Health Insurance Through Your Employer? ACA Repeal Will Affect You, Too (Health Affairs Blog)

Interactive Maps: Estimates of Enrollment in ACA Marketplaces and Medicaid Expansion (Kaiser Family Foundation)

Repealing Federal Health Reform: Economic and Employment Consequences for States (Commonwealth Fund)

You can listen to the call recording here:

The Truth and Consequences of the ACA repeal

During his farewell address, President Obama asked us to remember as we go forward that “…laws alone won’t be enough.  Hearts must change.  If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Essentially, President Obama is asking us to have empathy for one another.

It’s not difficult to empathize with the millions of people who will be affected by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Since the Senate’s middle of the night voterama on the morning of January 12th , 2017, which began the repeal of Obamacare, thousands of people have taken to social media ( using the hashtag #SaveACA) and shared the ways in which the ACA has benefited them and what it would mean if it were entirely repealed. Bernie Sanders, as well as other progressives, denounced the repeal as a death sentence for thousands of people per year.

What is more difficult to empathize with is Republican lawmakers’ reckless “repeal and run” attitude towards a program that provides healthcare to many who had limited or non-existent care before now.

As with any new program, the ACA has suffered its share of hiccups and criticisms. One of the main causes for concern among constituencies is how premiums and deductibles rose after Congress passed the ACA. It’s important to understand that one of the reasons this happened is purely political.

When the ACA was passed, Medicaid expansion in the states was intended to be part and parcel of expanding coverage to very low-income people. But many states with Republican leadership declined to expand Medicaid (Texas is the largest state that refused to expand Medicaid).  Likewise, Congress had ample opportunity since the law’s original passage to fix problems that would make the law’s implementation more effective and would positively impact the state insurance marketplaces, but under Republican leadership it has refused.

What is the reported cost to the American taxpayer of this repeal? An estimated $350 billion dollars over the next ten years.

Who does this repeal stand to benefit the most? The wealthiest 400 families in the country. The following graphic illustrates how certain elements of this repeal would stand to benefit those who need no help at all:

Do you disagree with the Republican leaders underhanded tactics in effecting this repeal? Do you think a suitable replacement should be devised before millions of people are left without healthcare insurance? Are you tired of polices that benefit the few while taxing the masses into oblivion?

If you’re in Texas, please call John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, and your district’s representatives. You can access a script in regards to this issue by clicking here. Also, browse this site for other grassroots ways to get involved!

Kendall Shearman

 

*URGENT* #SaveACA Conference Call TONIGHT 7 pm CST

Everyone is invited to join a conference call this evening to discuss critical strategies to oppose the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Congress began the process of dismantling this law that protects the health and lives of millions of Americans last night.

UPDATE: Tonight’s call will focus on Texas, but the topics and tactics will be useful for anyone interested in advocating to stop repeal and save our healthcare.

Thanks to the Children’s Defense Fund-Texas for convening this informational call!

We’ll be joined by two of Texas’ top healthcare policy advocates at the beginning of the call, and then provide plenty of time for Q&A.

Cheasty Anderson, Health Policy Associate, Children’s Defense Fund-Texas
Melissa McChesney, Healthcare Outreach Coordinator (contractor), Center for Public Policy Priorities

Call-in #: 641-552-9245

PIN: 283674

Simply dial the number above and follow the prompts.