Category Archives: Healthcare

A morally bankrupt political party hellbent on denying medical care to millions of Americans

The Trump administration has expanded its sabotage efforts of “Obamacare” into a full-scale undermining of the American healthcare system. Under Trump, Obamacare outreach groups face budget cuts as high as 98%:

The Trump administration has informed government-funded Obamacare outreach groups of deep impending budget cuts next year, with some nonprofits having budgets slashed by as much as 98 percent.

The Health and Human Services Department announced August 31 that it would cut funding for the health law’s in-person assistance program by 41 percent. Late Wednesday night, the administration sent each group its individual budget. It shows widespread variation in how big those funding cuts will be.

Last year’s budget for the navigator program ran out on September 1. This year’s grants were released just before midnight on September 13, meaning that the outreach groups went two weeks with no funding at all. This led to some groups laying off workers or shutting down operations entirely.

Last week the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a new report showing that Trump is making Obamacare premiums more expensive:

The Trump administration’s management of Obamacare is causing higher premiums and lower enrollment in the individual market, a new report from the Congressional Budget Office finds.

The nonpartisan office estimates that average premiums in the health law marketplaces will be 15 percent higher next year “largely because of short-term market uncertainty — in particular, insurers’ uncertainty about whether federal funding for certain subsidies that are currently available will continue to be provided.”

The CBO also estimates that there will be less competition in the marketplaces next year, which it also attributes to the uncertain federal environment surrounding the health law’s future.

The subsidies the CBO refers to are the Affordable Care Act’s cost-sharing reduction subsidies, which cover copays and deductibles for low-income health care enrollees. The Trump administration has not said whether it will continue to pay these subsidies next year, causing many insurance plans to raise their premiums to prevent any possible shortfall in revenue.

The CBO also points to “announced reductions in federal advertising, outreach, and other enrollment efforts” as additional factors that will make Obamacare sign-ups smaller next year than they otherwise would have been.

President Trump has often described the Affordable Care Act as “imploding on its own.” The CBO report suggests this isn’t the case at all; rather, the Trump administration is making specific policy decisions that are leading to an individual market that will be less functional, with fewer people signed up and higher premiums for those who do enroll.

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(Update) Action Alert: you have until September 30 to kill this zombie ‘Trumpcare’ bill

Yesterday I posted an Action Alert: you have until September 30 to kill this zombie ‘Trumpcare’ bill.

Steve Benen doubles down on this action alert today. Senate Dems issue a ‘red alert’ on Republican repeal efforts:

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a “red alert” to health care advocates late Friday, and we’ve seen similar sentiments from Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand‏ (D-N.Y.), and Al Franken (D-Minn.). Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told health care proponents, “Drop what you are doing to start calling, start showing up, start descending on DC.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has been focused on his single-payer proposal, but he added yesterday, “Our immediate concern is to beat back yet another disastrous Republican proposal to throw millions of people off health insurance.”

Among opinion leaders, progressive voices like the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne and the New York Times’ Paul Krugman both devoted their columns today to warning the public that the threat to the existing health care system is quite real.

Dylan Scott at Vox.com reports that Governor Doug Ducey, the ice cream man hired by Koch industries to run their Southwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Arizona, has announced his support for the zombie “Trumpcare” bill — before he has any idea of what its effects are — potentially giving cover to Senator John McCain to once again demonstrate that he is not a man of principles — “regular order! “– but a partisan political hack. John McCain might have just received permission to vote for Obamacare repeal:

The Senate’s longshot Obamacare repeal bill gained more momentum Monday after receiving a big endorsement: Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

The governor’s position matters because Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has said his governor’s support was necessary for the senator to back the plan, which would bring it one vote closer to the magical number of 50.

Ducey said that he would support the bill from Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), which would turn much of Obamacare’s funding into block grants for states with few strings attached. The bill would also place a federal spending cap on Medicaid, which is jointly funded by the states and feds, for the first time. That has caused many governors, who administer Medicaid, to balk.

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Action Alert: you have until September 30 to kill this zombie ‘Trumpcare’ bill

The Senate parliamentarian told senators that Tea-Publicans’ ability to pass an Obamacare replacement with just 51 votes expires at the end of September. Repealing Obamacare Just Got Even More Complicated. It was not entirely clear to me whether the Continuing Resolution (CR) that Congress passed a couple of weeks ago would extend this deadline, but everything I have read since indicates that the September 30 deadline remains in effect.

OK, zombie hunters. Last week Tea-Publicans introduced their desperation zombie “Trumpcare” bill. You know what you have to do.

Steve Benen explains, The final fight of the Republican health care crusade has arrived:

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) formally unveiled the only remaining Republican plan to overhaul the nation’s health care system.

NBC News obtained an advanced draft of the proposal, which has been percolating for a couple of months.

The 23-page summary draft and an explanation of funding, which Graham’s office confirmed is authentic, attempts to achieve parity in federal funding between states that expanded Medicaid and those that did not by 2026. That division was one that helped to kill the Senate’s efforts because senators from expansion states tended to oppose the legislation in its previous versions due to the roll-back of the Medicaid expansion.

The bill also provides federal money to states to implement their own health care plan as opposed to one system for all 50 states that exists under Obamacare.

We’ve discussed many of the profound flaws in this plan before, and we can go into more detail once the legislation is available for scrutiny. For now, however, let’s consider whether the Graham-Cassidy plan has a credible chance at success.

Note: There are at least 46 Tea-Publicans who would vote for a blank piece of paper, sight unseen, if they are told it repeals Obamacare,  consequences to Americans, the health care system, and the economy be damned.

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Arizona Supreme Court to hear appeal of Gov. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid expansion plan

Earlier this year, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the Maricopa County Superior Court decision upholding former governor Jan Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan in 2013. AZ Court of Appeals upholds Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan.

The “Kochtopus” Death Star, the Goldwater Institute, which is litigating the case on behalf of our lawless Tea-Publican legislators who are parties to this lawsuit, of course appealed the decision to the Arizona Supreme Court. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid (AHCCCS) expansion plan goes to Arizona Supreme Court.

The Arizona Supreme Court has now said it will hear the appeal. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, AZ Supreme Court to decide on Medicaid tax:

The state’s high court agreed Tuesday to decide whether a levy that funds Arizona’s expanded Medicaid program was illegally enacted.

Without comment, the justices said they want to give foes of the levy — current and former state lawmakers — a chance to make the case that it really is a tax.

What the court decides will be significant, as it takes a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate to raise taxes [the “Two-Thirds for Taxes” Amendment, Prop. 108 (1992)]. . And since the measure did not get that margin, a finding that the levy actually is a tax would mean the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program, could no longer collect it.

More significant, without the approximately $265 million being collected each year, the state could no longer afford to provide care to about 400,000 Arizonans who were added to the plan as a result of the 2013 action.

Tuesday’s action does not mean the justices have already reached a conclusion. But just the decision to review lower court ruling upholding the legality of the levy places it in potential jeopardy.

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Alternative paths to universal health care coverage

The Hill reports that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to unveil ‘Medicare for all’ bill on Wednesday:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will unveil his “Medicare for all” bill on Wednesday[.]

The advisory from his office says that Sanders will be joined by Senate co-sponsors, though does not list who they are. He will also be joined by “medical professionals, business leaders, and patients.”

The issue has emerged as a key test for 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls.

In fact, the Washington Post reports today that The dam is breaking on Democrats’ embrace of single-payer:

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) became the fourth co-sponsor of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) “Medicare for all” health-care bill Monday. In doing so, he joined Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.).

What do those four senators have in common? Well, they just happen to constitute four of the eight most likely 2020 Democratic presidential nominees, according to the handy list I put out Friday. And another senator in my top 8, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), last month came out in favor of the idea of “Medicare for all” — though not this specific bill (yet).

This is about as far from a coincidence as you can get. And it suggests the dam is breaking when it comes to the Democratic Party embracing government-run health care, also known as single-payer.

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Contradictions and confusion over fate of ‘Obamacare’

Recent reporting on the fate of “Obamacare” has been both contradictory and confusing to anyone trying to follow the machinations of Congress and the Trump White House.

Tom Price at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS), a Teabagger opponent of “Obamacare,” continues his efforts to sabotage “Obamacare.” The Same Agency That Runs Obamacare Is Using Taxpayer Money to Undermine It:

The Trump administration said on Thursday that it would slash spending on advertising and promotion for the Affordable Care Act, but it has already been waging a multipronged campaign against it.

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[T]he Department of Health and Human Services — an agency with a legal responsibility to administer the law — has used taxpayer dollars to oppose it.

Legal experts say that while it is common for a new administration to reinterpret an existing law, it is unusual to take steps to undermine it. Here are three ways the health department has campaigned against Obamacare. [Quick Summary]

1. REDIRECTING PROMOTIONAL FUNDING

Instead of using its outreach budget to promote the Affordable Care Act, the department made videos critical of the law.

2. ATTACKING THE LAW

The department targeted the Affordable Care Act with a marketing campaign as Republicans in Congress tried to repeal the legislation.

3. DELETING INFORMATION ONLINE

The department removed useful guidance for consumers about the Affordable Care Act from its website.

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