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GOP Pushes A New Repeal Plan

Here we go again!

Once again the Republicans in the U.S. Senate are working to strip healthcare from millions of working families by pushing yet another “Obamacare” repeal.

The newest bill, put forth by Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, would repeal the Affordable Care Act, decimating the Medicaid expansion program, leaving and estimated 32 million people without healthcare.

Overall the right-wing plan would cut $229 billion dollars eliminating the healthcare exchange subsidies and the funding allotted for the expansion of Medicaid.

The Graham-Cassidy bill would offer states “block grants” to offset the cost of providing healthcare to low-income families. Funding for these grants would continue to decrease over the next decade until they completely dry up in 2027.

According to research from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, by 2020 the Graham-Cassidy block grants would be sending $39 billion less to states than the current law would. CBPP estimates the Graham-Cassidy bill would slash $179 billion from healthcare funding by 2026.

Andy Slavitt, President Obama’s former director of Medicare, sent out this image, highlighting the massive cuts if the Graham-Cassidy bill goes through.

In a September 8th editorial board meeting with Seacoast Online, Governor Chris Sununu said he was “very excited” about the newest Graham-Cassidy Trumpcare bill that he claims to have helped create with Republican governors across the country. Sununu had high praise for the legislation saying it “really takes into account a lot of the things that governors are looking for.” (Sununu now says he opposed the bill. See update below) 

However, Republican Governor Charlie Baker of neighboring Massachusetts said the bill would “dramatically negatively affect the Commonwealth.”

“Sununu brags about creating this Graham-Cassidy Trumpcare bill when he should be apologizing for it. Granite Staters will see premiums skyrocket and Medicaid beneficiaries lose coverage because of Governor Sununu,” said Ray Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party. “This legislation would do enormous damage to Granite Staters’ health and economic well-being, and the Governor should immediately rescind his support.”

Senator Hassan tweeted her opposition to the bill by calling on everyone to contact their Senator’s office and tell them to oppose this bill.

“We must take #GrahamCassidy health care repeal bill seriously and speak out NOW. We cannot let this pass.”

The Graham-Cassidy bill would also remove the subsides that allows, low-to-moderate income families to purchase healthcare through the healthcare exchange. All in all more than 30,000 Granite Staters will be denied access to affordable healthcare.

The good news is that right now the Republicans do not have enough votes to pass “RepublicanCare 3.0”. The bad news is that Senator John McCain is indicating he may support this bill despite being the deciding vote against the Senate’s previous repeal effort.

CPPB estimates that Arizonans stands to lose $1.6 billion in federal funding by 2026 and 78,000 would lose the coverage they have gained through the Affordable Care act.

If McCain votes with his party, and Senators Collins and Murkowski vote against it as they did last time, we could end up in a 50-50 tie. For us, a tie is a loss as Vice President Pence would be the tie-breaker as he did with the DeVos’s confirmation.

We must take action now. We must inform our Senators that this bill will harm real working families like yours and mine. We must tell them to oppose this harmful legislation.

Pick up the phone and dial, (202) 224-3121 to be connected to the Senate switchboard. In case you need it, Indivisible posted a sample call script for citizens to use when calling your Senators office.

Republicans in the Senate have till the end of September to get this passed, so they are working hard and fast.  We must stop them now, before they steal healthcare from 30 million people.


UPDATE 7PM 9-18

Governor Chris Sununu comes out against the bill he claims to have help craft.

Governor Sununu’s statement:

“While I continue to strongly believe that Obamacare must be reformed, it must be replaced with something that works for New Hampshire. The Graham-Cassidy healthcare plan has some laudable aspects, including offering more flexibility to states in managing Medicaid. Unfortunately, under this plan, New Hampshire could possibly lose over a $1 billion in Medicaid funding between 2020-2026. While innovative, consumer-driven programs that eliminate waste and provide flexibility is the direction our nation’s health care must go, it is not practical for New Hampshire to craft a system with over $1 billion in cuts to federal funding. New Hampshire is proud of its tradition of not having an income tax or sales tax and remains vigilant against down-shifting of costs onto states that become general fund liabilities. As such, I cannot support this plan as it is currently drafted. It is my hope that Congress will continue to improve this plan to earn New Hampshire’s support. If given the opportunity, we stand ready to roll up our sleeves and craft a fiscally responsible system that works for all Granite Staters and does not ask us to subsidize the health care costs of other states.”

In reaction to Sununu’s flip-flop, NHDP Chair Ray Buckley issued the following statement:

“Just a week after bragging about his role in creating the Graham-Cassidy health care repeal bill, calling it ‘very exciting’ and saying he’s ‘hoping it actively gets proposed,’ Sununu has seen enough bad press on the bill to pull back his support. Graham-Cassidy would of course ravage the benefits so many Granite Staters depend on, including slashing Medicaid by half a billion dollars in the state and ending Medicaid expansion in the middle of the opioid crisis. Today, Sununu reaffirmed what we already knew: that he is spineless and has no qualms with completely reversing positions on a dime depending on what benefits him politically. He is fighting for himself, not for New Hampshire.”

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.

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