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ACA Marketplace Numbers Are Up, Advocates Make Final Push To Get Covered

Latest ACA Marketplace Numbers Show New Hampshire on Track – But Without 6 More Weeks to Enroll, Health Care Advocates Pushing Hard to December 15th Deadline 

Thousands sign up for new coverage, but with shortened open enrollment period and minimal publicity, local health care consumer and advocacy groups hustle to fill the gaps in New Hampshire before December 15th ACA Marketplace deadline 

Concord, NH – New Hampshire health care consumer and advocacy groups are making a final push to bolster Affordable Care Act Marketplace enrollment before the upcoming deadline on Friday. And in a protracted enrollment period, they are finding success: According to the latest enrollment report from CMS, 25,242 Granite Staters had enrolled in a new plan by December 9th. During the same time period in the last enrollment period, 21,154 Granite Staters had selected a plan by December 10th.

Other key facts from the latest enrollment numbers:

  • 3,728 more people enrolled in New Hampshire than this time last year – or 17% more
  • 662,652 more people enrolled across the nation than this time last year – or 17% more
  • Another 31,510 Granite Staters enrolled or auto-enrolled in coverage during this week and the additional 6 weeks of open enrollment last year – or 59.4% of total enrollment

Health care consumer and advocacy groups note that the enrollment numbers to date are promising, but with this year’s open enrollment period cut in half and advertising for it slashed by 90 percent, many Granite State individuals and families could be left out in the cold unless they enroll by the December 15th deadline. Advocates remain focused on a public education and outreach campaign that over the last 5 weeks has sought to ensure Granite Staters know how, when, where, and why to enroll in health insurance before the December 15th deadline.

“We are committed to making sure Granite Staters have important information about the open enrollment period and the resources available to them to find and afford critical health care coverage,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress Education Fund and project manager for Covering New Hampshire. 

The ACA public education and outreach campaign to date has included direct mail, paid digital ads, social media, video shorts, neighborhood literature drops, and a massive grassroots campaign to put important information about the ACA open enrollment period in front of New Hampshire individuals and families. In addition to the paid efforts, volunteers adopted more than 165 towns to distribute posters and flyers and mailed packets to local libraries, food banks, after-school programs, and community groups. Nearly 88% of New Hampshire residents live in a community covered by the outreach.

The effort is run by Covering New Hampshire in conjunction with Granite State Progress Education Fund and the NH Health Care Coalition, and made possible with grants from the HNH Foundation and NH Charitable Foundation.

“We are incredibly pleased with our progress to date, but with the open enrollment period cut in half we are in a full-out sprint to the December 15th deadline to encourage individuals and families to enroll in health care coverage,” Rice Hawkins said. “Free help is available, and just a click or call away. It is important for people to know that those who choose to go without health insurance may have to pay a penalty.”

Louise Spencer, co-founder of the Kent Street Coalition and one of the volunteer leads on the Covering New Hampshire campaign, added: “It is important that you sign up by December 15th, regardless of whether this is your first time getting covered or if you are returning to shop and save. Coverage could be cheaper than you think. Last year, 8 in 10 people qualified for financial help to make their monthly premiums more affordable and most people found plans available between $50 to $100 per month. Even if you had coverage through HealthCare.gov in the past, plans change so you should still update your information and double-check your network coverage for doctors and prescriptions, or see if you qualify for more cost-savings.”

 

To learn more about local resources, including in-person help to sign up and upcoming enrollment fairs, Granite Staters can visit https://coveringnewhampshire.org/. Consumers ready to apply for coverage can also go directly to 1-800-318-2596 or www.healthcare.gov.

 

Get Covered: NH Insurance Department Reminds NH Residents Open Enrollment Ends December 15

CONCORD, NH – Open enrollment for individual health insurance (on and off HealthCare.gov) ends this Friday, December 15 at 11:59 P.M. The first premium needs to be paid by the insurance company’s due date before the 2018 coverage will take effect. Coverage will begin on January 1, 2018.

“Governor Sununu and the Insurance Department want to make sure that people are aware their last chance to sign up for a 2018 plan is this Friday,” said Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “If you still have questions about what plan is best for you, reach out to an insurance agent or broker or a Navigator for help understanding your options.”

New Hampshire residents should be aware that there are only three companies selling qualified health plans: Anthem, Ambetter, and Harvard Pilgrim. If a consumer purchased coverage from a different company, the plan may not offer them full coverage of services. Individuals who have questions about the plans they purchased may contact the NH Insurance Department’s Consumer Services unit for assistance by calling 1-800-852-3416 or (603) 271-2261, or by email at consumerservices@ins.nh.gov.

If a consumer needs assistance selecting a plan during the open enrollment period, the Insurance Department recommends that they contact an insurance agent or broker or a Federal Navigator. Residents can receive assistance from these types of in-person assisters at no additional cost during the open enrollment period. The Insurance Department’s website features a federally-created list of agents and brokers who are certified to sell plans on HealthCare.gov, although many also sell plans outside of HealthCare.gov. Consumers may also visit the Find Local Help tool on HealthCare.gov to find a local agent or broker by zip code.

Even if a consumer likes their 2017 plan, they should still update their application on HealthCare.gov and shop and compare options for 2018. The only way to receive an accurate financial assistance amount for 2018 is to update and submit an application on the website. If consumers who purchase coverage through HealthCare.gov do not take any action they will be automatically enrolled into a plan by HealthCare.gov that is considered “similar” to their current plan; but that plan may not have a similar premium, and their doctors and prescription drugs may not be in network. That plan will not be effective unless the consumer pays the first premium.

Outside of the open enrollment period, the only way residents can enroll in an individual insurance plan is if they qualify for a special enrollment period, typically the 60 days following certain qualifying life events.

Minuteman Health members have a special enrollment period until March 1, 2018, but need to enroll by December 31st to avoid a gap in coverage. For more information visit here.

The NH Insurance Department Can Help:

More information for New Hampshire residents about open enrollment may be found on the Insurance Department’s website. If you have questions about or issues with using the Marketplace and obtaining coverage, please call the federal government at (800) 318-2596. Once you have coverage, please contact the Insurance Department with questions or concerns at 1-800-852-3416 or (603) 271-2261, or by email at consumerservices@ins.nh.gov.
About The New Hampshire Insurance Department

The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s mission is to promote and protect the public good by ensuring the existence of a safe and competitive insurance marketplace through the development and enforcement of the insurance laws of the State of New Hampshire. For more information, visit http://www.nh.gov/insurance.

Senators Shaheen, Hassan Call On Trump Administration to Reinstate Birth Control Coverage for Millions of Women

In letter, Senators urge Trump Administration to rescind President Trump’s action allowing employers to roll back health care coverage for women

WASHINGTON – This week, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined 36 of their colleagues in calling on Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan to rescind President Trump’s interim final rules (IFRs) issued on October 13, 2017, enabling employers and universities to interfere with their employees’ and students’ access to preventive health care by allowing them to choose not to cover birth control for religious or moral reasons.

In the letter, the senators highlighted the enormous economic benefit of requiring health plans to cover preventive services, including birth control for women, without out-of-pocket costs.

“This requirement has helped 62.4 million women have coverage for birth control. As a result, they have been able to make decisions about their reproductive health care that strengthen their economic standing and allow them to decide if and when to start families,” wrote the senators. “These IFRs also allow employers and insurance companies to once again discriminate against women by requiring them to pay more for the health care they need compared to their male counterparts.”

The senators also noted that repealing the contraceptive coverage provision goes against the original intentions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which created explicit provisions to guarantee women access to preventive services.

“Congress specifically included the Women’s Health Amendment in the ACA to ensure that the legislation would end the “punitive practices of insurances companies that charge women more and give [them] less in a benefit” by guaranteeing women access to preventive services,” the senators wrote. “The IFRs fail to recognize this clear congressional intent to place medical experts’ recommendations over political ideology.”

See full text of the letter below or click HERE:

20171205_BirthControlIFR

40% Increase In Premiums Highlight Need For A Better Healthcare System

Below is the press release from the NH Department of Insurance explain the massive spike in healthcare premiums, specifically on those who get insurance through the ACA marketplace.  Below that is my opinion on what we can do to fix this problem. 


Federal Government Announces 2018 Rate Increases

CONCORD, NH – NH Department Of Insurance Press Release  The federal government today published information on proposed rate increases for New Hampshire’s health insurance exchange in 2018, showing that consumers in the individual market may face increases of more than forty percent.

“Today’s news about rates is alarming, especially for the 94,000 New Hampshire residents who obtain their insurance through the individual market, but unfortunately, it does not come as a surprise,” said Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny. “A number of factors have led to rate increases for 2018 in New Hampshire and across the country, most notably the continued uncertainty at the federal level. My staff and I have been actively engaged to identify options to lessen the impact on the thousands of families who rely on health insurance through the state exchange.”

The 2018 rate information released today by the federal government details proposed increases to benefit plans that are submitted by insurance companies operating on the exchange.  (The New Hampshire Insurance Department is prohibited by law from releasing rate information until Nov. 1.)  A benefit plan is a specific plan that a New Hampshire resident would select for enrollment, such as a bronze, silver, or gold level metal plan.

Three companies have announced their intentions to offer plans on the 2018 exchange in New Hampshire: Ambetter, Anthem, and Harvard Pilgrim. A fourth, Minuteman Health, also has proposed rate increases listed on the federal site, but those plans will not be available to consumers, as the company announced in June that it would stop offering plans in 2018.

The information published today by the federal government shows that some of the state’s insurers have submitted benefit plans for the individual market with substantial increases. The New Hampshire Insurance Department looks at premiums each year from a market-wide perspective, comparing the median premium for a silver-level plan covering a 40-year-old non-tobacco-user.  For 2017, the median premium at this level was $335; the median premium at this level for 2018 would be $479, based on the carriers’ initially proposed rates.  If these rates are ultimately approved, this would represent a 43% increase between next year’s and this year’s median premium in the individual market.

Today, the Department issued guidance permitting insurers to assume the federal government will not be funding Cost Sharing Reductions (CSRs) in 2018.  In response, insurers might adjust silver level plan rates before the deadline for amending rate filings.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department has taken action in recent months to call policymakers’ and consumers’ attention to the impending rate increases and the possibility that companies might withdraw from the exchange in 2018. In June, the Legislature authorized the Department to create a market stabilization plan, and last month, the Department publicly shared its plan to reduce rates and promote stability in the individual market in 2018. Today, the Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee authorized the Insurance Department to pursue federal waivers in support of a market stabilization plan, but without relying on an assessment of health insurance carriers.


A completely new healthcare system for all Americans

The above press release from the NH Department of Insurance shows that our current system of private insurance is unsustainable.  A 40% increase in one year. Seriously WTF?  What we do not even know yet is how much out of pocket costs will also increase next year.  Out of pocket expenses include co-pays, co-insurance deductibles, and prescription costs.  These can cost people thousands of dollars on top of their thousands of dollars in premiums.

There is no doubt that Republicans are going to blame Democrats and President Obama for this increase while Democrats will blame Republicans for failing pass meaningful changes to the ACA to stabilize the marketplace.

But while I blame both of them for failing to do what is best for America, the majority of the blame falls directly on the private insurance corporations.  They are raking in obscene profits, continually increasing premiums to maximize their profits.  Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield reported $1 Billion in profits during the first quarter of 2016. That is a 44% increase in profits.

The corporations are shelling out hundreds of millions to lobbyists and politicians to prevent them from passing meaningful legislation that would help solve our problems.  For example, Congress has failed to pass legislation allowing medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, which other countries do, saving them billions annually.  In 2016, the health products, insurance and pharmaceuticals industries spent a combined $400 million on their lobbying efforts.

Are you still surprised that Congress cannot pass meaningful healthcare reform?

This 40% increase combined with the insurance companies record breaking profits last year make it glaringly obvious that we need to move to a single payer system.  With a less than 2% overhead, Medicare is one of the most efficient programs in the government. With additional changes, like allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, the cost of healthcare would drop dramatically.

It is time for America to move to a national universal healthcare system. It is time for Medicare For All.

Senator Hassan Joins Effort To Improve The Affordable Care Act And Lower Costs To Granite Staters

Legislation Improves Affordable Care Act &
Would Help Lower Costs for Older Granite Staters
 

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) in introducing a bill to help make health care coverage more affordable for hard-working, middle class Granite Staters.

The common-sense legislation helps improve the Affordable Care Act by eliminating the cliff that currently blocks many middle-class individuals and families from receiving financial help to purchase insurance through the marketplace.

“We need to work together to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and bring health care costs down for hard-working people,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “This bill is a common-sense step that will help to bring down the cost of premiums for middle class Granite Staters on the exchange, allowing more people to access affordable coverage and making our people and our communities stronger.”

Under current law, individuals and families making just one dollar more than 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($47,520 for an individual, $80,640 for a family of three) receive no financial assistance in purchasing health insurance in the marketplace. This sharp cut-off contributes to affordability issues in individual markets nationwide.

This legislation would make it so no individual or family in New Hampshire would pay more than 9.69 percent of their monthly income toward health insurance premiums. Currently, 9.69 percent of monthly income is the maximum contribution households are required to make toward their health plan if they make between 300 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

“While President Trump and Congressional Republicans seek to take away health care from 23 million Americans, real health care champions like Senator Maggie Hassan are seeking ways to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and make coverage more affordable for Granite State families,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “We need more elected officials like Sen. Hassan seeking solutions instead of the politicians promoting a failed Trumpcare 2.0 agenda that targets those with pre-existing conditions and puts at risk coverage for our families and small businesses.”

“We thank Senator Hassan for her work to ensure all Americans have access to the quality, affordable health care coverage they need to be healthy and economically secure,” Rice-Hawkins added.

The senators’ proposal would be particularly beneficial to individuals aged 50 to 64, given that plans are more expensive for older individuals.

850% Increase To Seniors Healthcare: NH Congressional Delegation Responds To New CBO Report

Yesterday the non-partisan, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released their report on the American Healthcare Act of 2017 (AHCA) and the news is horrifying to seniors and low income families.

The CBO reports:

  • An estimated 23 million people would lose healthcare coverage over the next ten years.
  • The cost of an individual plan would skyrocket by 20% in 2018, and an additional 5% in 2019.
  • Those 50-64 would be forced to pay drastically higher premiums, as much as 60% of their income.

VOX reports that this would be an 850% increase over what they would pay under the current ACA law.  You can see the breakdown of premiums based on 175% of the Federal Poverty Level ($26,500 per individual) and 450% of FPL ($68,200).

This new law makes healthcare completely unaffordable for millions of Americans, specifically older Americans.  These are just what people would be forced to pay to get “access” to healthcare. This does not include deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance.   Nobody could possibly afford to pay 60% of their income to have the freedom to access healthcare.

“Today’s CBO report confirms that the Republican healthcare repeal bill is not only reckless, it would be devastating to Granite Staters’ health and wellbeing,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).”Throwing 23 million Americans off their insurance is not a successful healthcare plan. The Republican leadership’s repeal bill would result in many patients paying more and receiving less coverage, while eliminating protections that prevent insurance companies from discriminating against patients with pre-existing conditions such as a history of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or postpartum depression. The repeal bill would be particularly harmful to New Hampshire’s response to the opioid epidemic, eliminating Medicaid expansion that has helped Granite Staters get the substance misuse treatment they need. I urge my Republican colleagues to commit to working in a bipartisan manner to improve the Affordable Care Act and ensure that more Americans have affordable, accessible care.”

“The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has confirmed what we already knew: Trumpcare would be devastating for hard-working people across New Hampshire and America, leading to higher costs for worse health coverage,” said Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH). “If you buy your own health care, Trumpcare means you will face 20% higher premiums in 2018, with especially high premium hikes for older Americans. And if you have a pre-existing condition, which under Trumpcare includes cancer, asthma or diabetes, you could once again be discriminated against with higher costs. Trumpcare would also lead to 23 million more uninsured Americans, and it would undermine our efforts to combat the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid crisis – despite President Trump’s promises to take action against this crisis. I will continue to do everything in my power to stop this harmful Trumpcare bill.”

“Today’s estimate by the independent Congressional Budget Office confirms that the health care repeal bill Republicans pushed through the House earlier this month would kick a devastating number of Americans – 23 million people – off of their coverage, strip protections from people with pre-existing conditions, and raise their premiums,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) who voiced her opposition to this bill on the House floor.

“This estimate caps off a disturbing week where President Trump proposed devastating cuts to Medicaid, children’s health care coverage, and Social Security disability insurance, while continuing to destabilize insurance markets by denying insurers certainty about whether his Administration will honor its obligations. President Trump has broken his promise of ‘insurance for everybody,’” Shea-Porter added.

“This report affirms what we already knew, that the American Health Care Act would be a disaster for access to healthcare in New Hampshire and across the country,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02). “It would take away protections for those with preexisting conditions, allow Americans over 50 to be charged more, hurt access to healthcare for seven million veterans, and jeopardize our response the opioid epidemic. I urge my Republican colleagues to abandon this legislation and come to the table in good faith to work on bipartisan solutions to improve access to healthcare for all Americans.”

No doubt the Republicans will try to say that the CBO confirms that this new healthcare bill will save taxpayers “$116 billion dollars” over the next decade.  But at what cost?  They are gutting Medicaid upwards of $800 billion with an addition $276 billion in tax giveaways to wealthiest Americans.

This new healthcare bill is a complete disaster. The Senate is our only hope to somehow fix this.  If the Senate passes this bill as it is now, people will die.  People will no longer be able to afford healthcare and they will no longer be able to afford their medications and they will die.

Planned Parenthood Of NH Pushes Back On Washington’s Attack On Women’s Health

Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund Launches #IStandwithPP Statewide Grassroots Campaign to Protect Women’s Health in Granite State

Activists Gird for Negative Impact on 12,000 Granite Staters, State’s Five Planned Parenthood Health Centers If Extreme Politicians in Washington Act to Restrict Women’s Health 

From Planned Parenthoot FLIKR

CONCORD, NH— Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund has joined the #IStandWithPlannedParenthood national grassroots campaign that includes 300 events in 47 states across the country.  Just last week, Speaker Ryan’s pledged to defund Planned Parenthood health services – a measure that would leave thousands of Granite Staters without care. The measure would prohibit the health care provider from receiving reimbursement for services, like cancer screenings and birth control, provided to patients insured by federal programs like Medicaid and Medicare. In effect, this blocks patients from accessing reproductive health care. Federal insurance programs do not cover abortion.

As a part of these efforts, Senators Shaheen and Hassan made their first joint New Hampshire appearance on Monday morning at a Planned Parenthood health center in Exeter, where they spoke with local patients and volunteers signaling their unwavering efforts to protect health care access for the 12,000 Granite Staters who rely on Planned Parenthood health centers for their care, and the 2.5 million women, men, and  young people across the country.

“Planned Parenthood’s patients are anxious about how they will get affordable reproductive and sexual health care if extreme politicians in Washington block access to birth control and preventive care at our health centers,” said Jennifer Frizzell, Vice President for Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “New Hampshire has among the lowest teen pregnancy and STI rates in the country and taking away access to birth control, cancer screenings, and reproductive health care will have dangerous consequences for the health of our citizens and for the well-being of our communities. We are grateful that our federal delegation knows how essential the services Planned Parenthood provides is and will fight to ensure women’s health care access is protected.” 

“The fundamental right of women to access health care is integral to the economic security and vitality of our families and communities, and Planned Parenthood provides critical primary and preventative health care services to thousands of New Hampshire women, including preventative care, birth control and cancer screenings,” Senator Hassan said. “It is outrageous that Speaker Ryan and Republicans in Washington would try to take away access to basic health services for women in New Hampshire and across the country, and I will continue fighting against any proposals that defund Planned Parenthood and undermine Granite Staters’ access to quality, affordable health care at providers they trust.” 

“Thousands of women in the Granite State rely on Planned Parenthood for vital preventative and primary health care services like breast cancer exams, diabetes screenings, and birth control services,” Senator Shaheen said. “Defunding Planned Parenthood would leave these women without access to critical preemptive care that they need in order to live healthy lives, care for their families, and lead in the workforce. This effort is another politically-motivated attack on women in New Hampshire and across the country, and I will not stand for it. Republican leadership in Congress does not have a mandate to take away women’s healthcare.” 

Image by Sarah Mirk (FLIKR CC)

 

Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund has many grassroots events planned in January to highlight the support for Planned Parenthood in the state and nationally.

Later this week, PPNHAF will kick off an ‘I Stand With Planned Parenthood’ statewide lawn sign drop. As of today, more than 200 Granite Staters have signed up to stand in solidarity with the state’s largest women’s health provider by placing a sign outside their homes. All weekend PPNHAF will be dropping signs off to supporters around the Seacoast area. 

On January 21st, PPNHAF will cohost a ‘NH Women’s Day of Action & Unity’ in Concord, NH. The ‘NH Women’s Day of Action & Unity’ will include a morning rally and afternoon advocate trainings. Hundreds of New Hampshire residents have RSVP’d to attend and are eager to voice their support for women’s health, equity, and justice in an era of uncertainty for Planned Parenthood and abortion access.

PPNHAF also plans to host three open mic “story slams” in coffee shops in Manchester, Portsmouth and Keene where women, men, and families can share the important role Planned Parenthood and reproductive health care access has played in their lives. The events will take place on January 26th and 27th at Book & Bar in Portsmouth on Thursday January 26th from 7-9pm, Brewbakers in Keene on Friday January 27th from 6-8pm and Studio 550 in Manchester on Friday January 27th from 7-9pm.

In the past two months, hundreds of people have signed up to volunteer in New Hampshire, mobilizing supporters to fight back against this effort to restrict access to health care. The events coincide with the launch of a new website, istandwithpp.org, directing supporters to take action by sending letters to their members of Congress, volunteering for Planned Parenthood, sharing their story, finding an event, or calling their senator. Since yesterday, 168,000 people signed a petition asking Congress to stand with Planned Parenthood against the attacks. 

The American people overwhelmingly support Planned Parenthood. Sixteen separate nationwide polls and nine polls in key swing states show strong favorability for Planned

Parenthood and strong opposition to efforts in Congress to block patients from accessing high-quality, often lifesaving care at Planned Parenthood. Additionally, a recent Politico-Harvard poll showed overwhelming support for Planned Parenthood, including from nearly half of self-identified Trump supporters.

ICYMI: New Business Coalition Forms to Advocate for Granite State Medicaid Expansion

Concord, N.H. – Continuing the steady drumbeat in support of reauthorizing New Hampshire’s successful Medicaid Expansion, the Union Leader reported today that a group of local businesses and business organizations has formed a coalition to advocate for continuing the successful bipartisan program that is reducing the shifting of uncompensated care costs onto families and businesses while boosting the Granite State’s economy. Please see below.

A coalition that includes some businesses and local business groups has formed to advocate for Medicaid expansion in New Hampshire.

ExpandNH has launched a website and plans to advocate for Medicaid expansion from a business perspective, according to a statement released Monday.

The effort includes chambers of commerce in Manchester, Portsmouth and Concord; the for-profit Hospital Corporation of America; the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation; and Harvard Pilgrim, said Michelline Dufort, vice president of public affairs at Cookson Strategic Communications, which is organizing and managing the ExpandNH initiative.

It has also shortened the issue into a five-letter abbreviation: MedEX.

“This is an important issue because MedEX is working as it was designed — helping New Hampshire families become and stay healthy while stabilizing health insurance rates for employers and creating savings for taxpayers,” Dufort said in a statement.

Leo W Gerard: GOP Vows Sickness and Ill-Health

Paul Ryan (DonkeyHotey)

Paul Ryan (DonkeyHotey FLICKR)

The grandest and most majestic first act of 2016 by the Republican majority in Congress was to take a meat clever and sever 17 million Americans from their Affordable Care Act health insurance.

No chemo for you, cancer patients, the GOP declared. No plaster or slings for you, bone fracture victims, they sneered.

Precious few of the 17 million Americans whose health the GOP imperiled with this hard-hearted deed heard any panicked news about it, however. This made Republicans very, very sad because last week’s measure was the first in their 50 attempts to gut the Affordable Care Act to actually pass both the U.S. House and Senate. All of their other failed attempts had died in Congress. But this one, this one special bill, died Friday at the tip of President Obama’s veto pen. Still, it’s just as dead as the others. The bad, old insurance days won’t return.

In those bad, old, pre-Affordable Care Act days, health insurance was not working. Remember insurance companies throwing people off their plans when they got sick? Recall insurance companies denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions like diabetes and acne? There was that Medicare prescription plan donut hole that cost senior citizens thousands of dollars every year. And more and more employers were ditching health coverage for workers.

2016-01-10-1452442490-157501-ACAgraphic.jpg

Americans wanted it all fixed. The Affordable Care Act took a giant leap toward accomplishing that. Okay, it’s not perfect. It doesn’t cover everyone. But 17.6 million more Americans got insurance because of it. Young adults to age 26 can stay on their parents’ plans. The cost of drugs for seniors stuck in the donut hole declined, and the coverage gap disappears altogether in 2020. Insurance companies can’t dump the sick or deny them coverage.

It’s a different world. It’s one where tens of millions of Americans feel safer and more secure. They’ve got health insurance now. Or they know that if they lose their job, and along with it their employment-based insurance, they’ll be able now to buy coverage.

This world, though, makes Republicans squirm. They hate it when the government of the people, by the people does more for the people. To them, it’s bad enough that the people have gotten together and decided government should provide public schools for all children. Republicans believe private schools exclusively for those who can afford them would be just fine. Republicans believe those private security forces hired to guard gated communities could supplant public police departments, and places that couldn’t afford private forces would get no protection. They’d be happy with toll roads owned and operated by private corporations instead of freeways built by tax dollars.

Similarly, they’ve repeatedly proposed privatizing Medicare, the highly efficient, extremely popular, government-operated health insurance for the elderly. They opposed the national health insurance plan FDR proposed in 1939. And in the decades since then, they’ve killed every attempt by Democratic administrations, including President Bill Clinton’s, to provide some sort of national health plan. Many influential Republican leaders condemned Medicare, the national health plan serving only the elderly, when it passed in 1965. Those opponents included Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush.

Republicans don’t care that Americans love Medicare and desperately want the reassurance of access to health insurance during the decades before they turn 65. Republicans don’t care that citizens of every other major first-world nation provide this benefit to each other. Germany started doing it in 1883.

Republicans don’t believe citizens should provide services to each other through their government. And the GOP’s sworn mission is to destroy as many as they can.

In addition to cancelling insurance for 17 million Americans, the doomed Republican measure would have eliminated all federal funding – $450 million – for Planned Parenthood clinics across the country, the places that millions of poor women rely on for basic reproductive needs including annual exams and family planning.  No federal funding pays for abortions.

The GOP contended that it made up for that loss by providing $235 million for community health centers. That’s just about half of the Planned Parenthood funding. So apparently the GOP thought it was just fine to deny care to half of the women Planned Parenthood serves.

Republicans made no plans to deal with the loss of the Affordable Care Act, however. They’re claiming that they’d replace the act someday over the rainbow when they re-elect GOP majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate as well as elect a GOP President, after which they would actually be able to repeal the law.

There’s not any sort of replacement proposal now, however. None. GOP Speaker of the House Paul Ryan admits it. He claims Republicans will start talking about that soon. “Just wait,” he instructed when asked about plans.

Republicans have been trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act for five years. But they’ve made absolutely no effort to patch the massive gaping hole that would leave behind. They don’t want to.

They don’t believe in communities coming together to care for their members, whether that’s by providing public transit or access to health insurance.

They believe that Americans who get cancer in the richest country in the world and don’t have health insurance are on their own.

NH Democrats’ Blast Ayotte And Rubio Over Healthcare “Repeal And Defund” Votes

Excerpts from NHDP Press Call on Ayotte and Rubio’s Votes to Defund Planned Parenthood and Repeal Medicaid Expansion

CONCORD, N.H. – Today, the New Hampshire Democratic Party held a press conference call on Senators Kelly Ayotte and Marco Rubio and their damaging, partisan votes to repeal New Hampshire’s successful bipartisan Medicaid expansion and kick 40,000 Granite Staters off of their health care while defunding Planned Parenthood in one fell swoop. While both are scheduled to appear at the same Republican women’s event in New Hampshire today, former New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Kathy Sullivan and New Hampshire State House Deputy Democratic Leader Cindy Rosenwald spoke out on their disastrous votes.

Former NH Democratic Party Chair, Kathy Sullivan:

“Sen. Ayotte is appearing with Sen. Rubio today at a Republican women’s event on the Seacoast and they will likely tout that vote as if it’s something to be proud of. But it’s not something to be proud of. They should be ashamed for that vote. This was a vote to defund Planned Parenthood, which helps thousands of women and their families here in New Hampshire. This was a vote to take away health care coverage for more than 40,000 people who were covered by New Hampshire’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion. 

“But we shouldn’t be surprised by these votes. This is Ayotte’s 5th vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and her 6th to defund Planned Parenthood — and Ayotte even voted against a proposal from so-called ‘centrist Republicans’ including Maine’s Susan Collins who wanted to maintain funding for Planned Parenthood. And Rubio is trying to win over Granite State voters by pushing for ACA repeal and opposing a woman’s right to choose without exceptions for rape and incest survivors.

“Ayotte and Rubio’s votes make it abundantly clear that they aren’t interested in supporting New Hampshire’s women and families – they’re interested in dialing back the clock when it comes to women’s health, leaving women and families without the health care they need…

“And speaking of health care, over 40,000 Granite Staters receive their health care through New Hampshire’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion led by Governor Hassan. Kelly Ayotte voted to take coverage away from 40,000 in our state. And Rubio? Just like every other Republican presidential candidate, he’s vowed to take health care away from millions nation-wide.

“They’re clearly comfortable with putting New Hampshire’s health and safety on the line. After all, they also voted last night to continue allowing known or suspected terrorists to purchase guns and explosives!”

New Hampshire State House Deputy Democratic Leader Cindy Rosenwald:

“Kelly Ayotte and Marco Rubio voted to repeal New Hampshire’s successful bipartisan Medicaid expansion. A bipartisan plan that was the result of members of both parties coming together to get results for New Hampshire’s people and businesses. Ayotte and Rubio aren’t just out-of-touch with voters across our state — they’re even out-of-touch with Republicans in the State House who support this crucial plan.  

“Repealing this plan would mean that more than 40,000 New Hampshire residents get the rug pulled out from underneath them and will lose their health care. Kicking tens of thousands of people off their health care would be bad enough, but it’s made worse because of the substance abuse crisis here in New Hampshire. This vote would eliminate substance abuse treatment coverage for a huge group of Granite Staters… 

“If that funding from Medicaid expansion goes away, providers will no longer be able to function the same and will be left with costs they can no longer afford. Now is the time to be expanding access to substance abuse treatment, not taking it away. 

“We’ve lost almost a person a day to overdose this year in New Hampshire.

“The Medicaid expansion is a vital component of our efforts to reverse that trend and save lives. But Kelly Ayotte and Marco Rubio voted to eliminate it.”


Yesterday, Jennifer Frizzell, Vice President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Hampshire released the following statement after Kelly Ayotte voted to defund Planned Parenthood:

“Planned Parenthood condemns Kelly Ayotte for once again abandoning the women, men, and young people of New Hampshire who rely on the critical preventative services at Planned Parenthood health centers. Thousands come to our health centers for care each year for services like breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control, STD/STI tests – and for many we are the only provider they will see all year.   

“Women’s health should not be a partisan issue. We are grateful that several moderate Republican Senators, including Maine’s Senator Collins, recognize this. Yet, once again, Senator Ayotte has followed the directives of outside special interest groups instead of protecting the well-being of the women of New Hampshire.  Here in New Hampshire and across our country, those who stand with Planned Parenthood understand that women, men and young people should be able to receive the care they need with  health insurance from the provider they choose.” 

“Senator Ayotte should understand that her votes and her actions have real consequences for the health and well-being of her constituents. It’s profoundly disappointing that politicians like Ayotte continue their constant attacks against women’s health mere days after the recent tragedy that occurred in Colorado Springs.  While Ayotte demonstrates extreme indifference to the events of the last week, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England will remain focused on the safety and well-being of our patients and our continued commitment to providing high quality health care- no matter what.”

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