Write to Support Medicaid in Illnois

From Jen Hofmann’s action items for this week

Action: Stand with Americans who are poor, disabled, and/or unable to work.

 

Find: Your state Medicaid director’s address (look up, scroll down for address).

Write: Dear [Name], I am deeply concerned about the CMS letter on 1/12/18 allowing states to deny medical care to vulnerable citizens. With a majority of Medicaid enrollees already working, in school, or medically unable to work, compliance enforcement is an unnecessary waste of taxpayer money. We must take care of our neighbors in need. This new policy penalizes people living in poverty and with disabilities, cutting them off from a powerful poverty-reducing program. I entreat you to continue providing Medicaid to all [Staters] who need it. Thank you for your consideration. Name, town.

 

Help Save the ACA

Take action this weekend and submit your story for the Graham-Cassidy Hearing on Monday, September 25th.

Jen Hoffman’s action item for this weekend

Action: Submit public testimony for Monday’s Graham-Cassidy hearing.

Email: GCHcomments@finance.senate.gov by 1pm EST/10am PST Monday 9/25.

Script: I/my family rely/relies on quality, affordable healthcare. Because of this, I oppose the Graham-Cassidy bill. My story with [Medicaid, pre-existing conditions, disabilities, affordability, etc.] is… I would like to see a bipartisan Congressional effort to improve the ACA, not repeal it.

Sincerely, [name]

[town, state]

From Protect Our Care – Take Action Against Cuts to ACA Outreach Funds

POCIL Email Template Header JPEG

Take action against Trump’s cuts to funding for ACA outreach

Open Enrollment navIn their latest attempt to sabotage the ACA, the Trump administration announced late last week they would be slashing funding for navigators and advertising for the upcoming open enrollment in the Marketplace by over $100 million nationwide.

This decision will reverberate throughout Illinois and cannot stand. Call your Members of Congress at (866) 877-3303 and urge them to oppose this sabotage and support bipartisan solutions that will strengthen our health care system.

Navigators in Illinois provide the on-the-ground support necessary for people to easily access health care and overcome barriers to enrollment (including language and cultural differences, disabilities, etc.) Without this assistance, millions of people who may not understand their health care options will remain uninsured, go without necessary care, and be penalized for not having coverage.

Advertising the Marketplace is crucial for a functioning and successful exchange. Without advertising, we will miss out on healthy participants who don’t know about the exchange or who don’t know that the enrollment period is shortened this year.

“The surest way to kill the exchanges is to keep them a secret,” says Timothy Jost, a consumer advocate at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. “Sick people will find them, but getting younger and healthier people enrolled is the problem.”

Take Action Now! 

  1. Read the Protect Our Care Illinois statement on this cynical attack on millions of health insurance consumers.
  2. Call the Protect Our Care Illinois Hotline (866) 877-3303 and tell your Members of Congress to publicly denounce the Trump administration’s decision to slash funds for advertising for the Marketplace and navigator funding. Tell them to support bipartisan efforts underway to stabilize the Marketplace AND to fund robust outreach and enrollment efforts.
  3. Call Gov. Rauner at (312) 814-2121 or (217) 782-0244 and tell him to publicly denounce this decision by the Trump administration to slash the advertising budget and navigator funding. Tell him that assisters in Illinois communities have played a key role over the past 4 years in reducing the number of uninsured in Illinois to an all time low. Ask him what his Department of Insurance will do to help ensure that Illinois consumers know about open enrollment and their choices for enrollment.

Thank you for your continued activism and advocacy on behalf of Illinois health care consumers!

Next Steps in Healthcare Fight

Keep Talking to Your Representatives

While we can all breathe a sigh of relief that BCRA won’t pass, we must remain vigilant.  There are already rumblings of an attempt to cut Medicare and Social Security .  The President has threatened to actively sabotage the markets to destroy the ACA.  We know the Affordable Care Act needs attention to address problems in the markets.  It is time to talk to our representatives about steps to strengthen and improve the ACA through bipartisan efforts.

The Center for American Progress has recommended three initial legislative steps.

  1. Guarantee continued payments for ACA subsidies and reduce cost sharing
  2. Reimburse insurers for high-cost enrollees
  3. Offer inducements to insurers to enter markets with a single or no insurer

Saving healthcare will take more than resisting Republicans.  We need to propose solutions to the problems in our current system and encourage our representatives to fight for them.

 

 

 

 

Stop Trumpcare

Back to the Phones

We all had a little breather over the 4th of July break, but the Senate will be back in session tomorrow.  Indications are they will pull out all the stops to pass BCRA.  Mitch McConnell submitted revisions to the CBO last week, and has been offering money to flip “no” votes.  He will have two weeks to pass the bill after the CBO scores it.  Save My Care has TV ads in Nevada, Alaska and West Virginia.  It’s time for us to go back to the phones and call everyone on the list.

Dick Durbin (D)IL202-224-2152
Tammy Duckworth (D)IL202-224-2854
Shelley Capito (R)WV202-224-6472
Lisa Murkowski (R)AK202-224-6665
Dean Heller (R)NV202-224-6244
Dan Sullivan (R)AK202-224-3004
Jeff Flake (R)AZ202-224-4521
Susan Collins (R)ME202-224-2523
Bill Cassidy (R)LA202-224-5824
Bob Corker(R)TN202-224-3344
Cory Gardner (R)CO202-224-5941
Richard Shelby (R)AL202-224-5744
Luther Strange (R)AL202-224-4124
Pat Toomey (R)PA202-224-4254
Lamar Alexander (R)TN202-224-4944
Ron Johnson (R)WI202-224-5323
Rob Portman (R)OH202-224-3353

 

Health Care Round Table with Congressman Schneider

On Friday, July 7th, with about 200 other people, I attended the Health Care Round Table hosted by Congressman Brad Schneider and the Lake County Health Department at Waukegan High School.  The Congressman spoke about the history of the Affordable Care Act, the AHCA and the BCRA and the implications for Illinoisans of the proposed changes.  He emphasized that the ACA was the result of 15 months of work, 79 public hearings, testimony by over 180 witnesses, included hundreds of amendments (many by Republicans) and eventually passed with no Republican votes.  The ACHA and BCRA have been developed behind closed doors with no hearings, witnesses, amendments, or debates.

Medicaid in Illinois

  • over 3 million Medicaid recipients
  • covers 50% of childbirth
  • covers 47% of children
  • covers 18% of seniors and disabled people

Impact of the AHCA (Congressional bill)

  • 24 million lose Medicaid in the first decade
  • cost of insurance on the exchanges would increase, especially for older people.  A 60 year old making $26,000 would see premium go from $1700 a year to $16,000 a year

Impact of BCRA (Senate bill)

  • 23 million people would lose Medicaid
  • provides a $800 billion tax cut for the 400 wealthiest Americans
  • Medicaid would be cut 26% in the first decade
  • Medicaid would be cut 35% in the second decade
  • almost all premiums would go up
  • “age tax” – older people would have the highest increases
  • those with income at 200% of the poverty level would see a 96% increase in premiums
  • those with income under the 200% poverty level would lose subsidies, premiums increase 300%
  • rate of uninsured would rise again to 18% (after falling from 20% to 10% as a result of the ACA).

The Congressman stated that the ACA needs fixing, and supports a bipartisan approach. He thinks the marketplace needs adjustments, something must be done about insurance companies pulling out of the market, the Cost Sharing Reductions must be continued and a public option should be considered.

Mark Pfister, Executive Director of the Lake County Health Department, shared information about the ACA in Lake county.

  • 44,436 people accessed insurance because of the ACA
  • rate of uninsured went from 11% in 2013 to 3% in 2016
  • 21,600 people got Medicaid in 2016 because Illinois opted for Medicaid expansion
  • 40,000 patients get health care at Lake County Health Department and 60% are on Medicaid
  • pre-ACA, the uninsured rate at the Health Department was 46%; it is now 34%
  • ACA created the Public Health Prevention Fund, funds vaccines from CDC for disease outbreaks like Zika or the mumps.   The BCRA cuts the fund by 11%
  • Mental Health Parity Act (2008) required insurance to cover mental health services as they did other medical services but not implemented until the ACA provided the funds to pay for it.  BCRA eliminates those funds resulting in cuts to mental health and substance abuse services

Three constituents shared their stories of how the ACA has helped them including:

  • children being covered on their parents’ insurance until age 26
  • coverage of pre-existing conditions
  • subsidies in the exchanges
  • removal of life time caps

During the question and answer period,  Congressman Schneider outlined his “fixes” for the ACA

  • goal is to provide quality, affordable health insurance
  • need comprehensive health care policy, agencies need to be able to address issues
  • promote innovation to reduce costs (repeal medical device tax)
  • strengthen marketplace, pass the Common Sense Act
  • bolster Cost Sharing Reduction Subsidies
  • bipartisan effort

One constituent asked what is being done now, in addition to trying to block the passage of BCRA.

  • Problem Solving Caucus – 23 Democrats and 21 Republicans
  • Bipartisan Working Group – meets once a week
  • Similar group being developed in the Senate by Senator Heitkamp
  • looking at abuses in the system (Martin Shkreli)

The audience was largely supportive of the Congressman.  The negative comments were about the cost of insurance in the marketplace, the lack of local providers for the marketplace plans, costs of medications and long waiting times for appointments.

Senate Still Working to Pass BCRA

Behind the Scenes Efforts to “Flip” Senate Votes

Several news sources are reporting that Senator McConnell continues to apply pressure to Senators who are resistant to vote “yes” on  BCRA.  The NYT provided a list on Wednesday of the current positions in the Senate (article link HERE ).  According to Talking Points Memo, McConnell is focusing on ten Senators who were most vocal in their opposition in the last week ( link to article HERE ).  They describe the probable “wish list” for each of these Senators.  The Washington Post outlines similar behind the scenes negotiating, but sees this as an attempt to revise parts of the bill to get a new CBO score prior to voting again in mid-July (link HERE ).

Regardless of the strategy, it is clear that BRCA is not dead yet.  Marches and protests continue in Washington and at the offices of Senators.  If anything was learned after passage of the AHCA, it is that zombie bills can rise again.

Action Item: Keep Calling to Save Healthcare

McConnell Working Behind the Scenes to Pass BCRA

The Senate is rapidly moving toward another vote to try to pass BCRA, probably on Friday.  We need to continue to make calls encouraging Senators to oppose this bill, in any form.  Scroll down to previous action items for the phone numbers.  Encourage anyone you know with a Republican senator to keep up the pressure.