Speak Up to Support Medical Care for Vulnerable Americans

Ask Your Senators to Oppose Efforts to Restrict Medicaid.

Recently an increasing number of states are requesting permission to impose restrictions on Medicaid by instituting lifetime caps on Medicaid benefits or requiring work requirements to remain on Medicaid rolls.  A recent Vox article reports that a poll by the Kaiser Foundation finds that 41% of respondents believed that work requirements are aimed at cutting spending on Medicaid, and 33% believe the requirements are for lifting people out of poverty as Republicans claim.  These restrictions are being imposed despite fact that the Medicaid program remains popular among respondents (40% reporting very favorable and 34% somewhat favorable views of Medicaid).

From Jen Hofmann’s “Americans of Conscience Action Checklist” comes the following suggestion.  This script could also be used to call or to e-mail your senators.  Urge friends and family in red states to do the same.

Action: Stand with people in need of medical care.

Call: The local offices of your 2 senators and 1 House rep (look up).

Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and concerned about allowing states to impose lifetime caps on Medicaid coverage. I don’t understand why congressional Republicans are shredding the social safety net. I want my taxes to provide medical care to my vulnerable neighbors. I oppose Medicaid work-for-service and lifetime caps. Tell me, how is [name] protecting our own citizens’ medical needs?

Bonus: If you’re in AZ, KS, UT, ME, and WI (lifetime limits) or in AZ, AK, ID, KS, KY, ME, MI, NC, OH, UT, and HI (work requirements), call your 2 state legislators to oppose this (look up).

 

IL Senator Dick Durban: call  202-224-2152  or e-mail 

IL Senator Tammy Duckworth: call  202-224-2854 or e-mail

 

Time to Pick Up the Phones Again!

Call Members of Congress to Vote NO on the Tax Bill.

The House of Representatives thinks it may have enough votes to pass their version of the tax bill, but some Republican Senators have expressed doubts about voting in favor of the Senate version of the bill.  The Senate version includes language to drop the individual mandate (requiring everyone to have health insurance or face a tax penalty) of the Affordable Care Act which will devastate the marketplace.

Please call your Senators to vote no, but even more importantly, call on these wavering Senators listed below to vote NO the tax bill because of it’s negative effects on the middle class, on the deficit and especially, on health insurance rates for the nation.  Find your member of Congress here if you are not in IL.

Local Members of Congress:

Senator Dick Durbin (IL) – 202-224-2152

Senator Tammy Duckworth (IL) – 202-224-2854

Possible NO votes:

Senator John McCain (Arizona) – 202-224-2235

Senator Bob Corker (Tennessee) – 202-224-3344

Senator Susan Collins (Maine) – 202-224-2523

Senator Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) – 202-224-6665

Continue to Publicize ACA Enrollment – Reach Out Beyond Social Media

Here are Flyers to Post.

Not everyone is reachable through social media.  It’s important to invest the extra bit of effort to publicize in other venues.  Here is a link to downloadable flyers in Spanish and English (make sure you choose the one for Illinois or your appropriate state – pdf format also available) that you can print and post to bulletin boards at libraries, community centers, coffee shops, local food and convenience markets and any other place you may know.  Always ask for permission to post the flyers please!

The Good News – ACA Numbers Are Up As the Enrollment Period Begins

Initial Numbers for ACA Enrollment – Over 600,000 Sign Up in the First Four Days!

The Washington Post reports that more than one in five of these are new enrollees.  The increase in numbers is despite the Trump Administration undercutting the process by shortening the enrollment period by half, slashing the TV and radio advertising budget and cutting navigator funding.  State run exchanges are also reporting brisk business as the enrollment period begins  according to CNN Money

However, this trend doesn’t predict overall ACA success as the numbers tend to fall off during the latter part of the enrollment period.  The sickest people who need insurance the most tend to sign up first, but the success of the ACA marketplace also depends on healthier people signing up to balance the risk pool.  It is important for all of us to keep spreading the word about the enrollment period and where to find help with the process (see below).

Additional Information About ACA Enrollment

From Protect Our Care IL Newsletter:

Here are the top 5 things you need to know about Open Enrollment:

  1. Open enrollment is only half as long this year (Nov 1 – Dec 15).
  2. Discounts on health coverage (through tax credits and cost sharing reductions) are STILL available to those who qualify.
  3. It’s important to shop around – the pricing of premiums is very different this year. In Illinois, you can go to HealthCare.gov or GetCoveredIllinois.gov. Eighty percent of people can get a plan for $75 or less and many in Illinois can get a bronze plan for free.
  4. You may qualify for 2018 tax credits even if you didn’t in 2017. If you aren’t eligible for tax credits (check this calculator to make sure), go to GetCoveredIllinois.gov and see if you can find a cheaper plan off marketplace.
  5. Free help is available! If you have questions about signing up or want to talk through your options with a trained professional, you can make an appointment with a trained navigator here or call Get Covered Illinois at 866-311-1119.

ACA Forum

Another Opportunity to Get Your ACA Questions Answered

The POP (People Over Party) Workshop will bring Miranda Wilgus of ACA Consumer Advocacy in to update you with the latest information on the ACA sign-ups, Medicare and Medicaid, and answer your questions on health care coverage.

Health Care Workshop information:

Sunday, November 11, 2017  1-3pm

St. Peter United Church of Christ

47 Church Street, Lake Zurich, IL

 

 

 

Affordable Care Act Update

What Is the Latest on the Rollercoaster Also Known As the ACA?

 

At the North Shore Indivisible meeting today,  Miranda Wilgus of  the ACA Consumer Advocacy group updated us on some of what has been happening with the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Regarding ACA Enrollment:

The first item to know and to publicize among your friends and relatives is that the ACA enrollment period is shorter this year, down to 45 days instead of last year’s 3 months!  ACA enrollment starts Nov 1st and runs only through December 15.

  • In addition to shortening the enrollment period, the budget for publicizing information about the ACA has been radically slashed, leaving it to advocacy groups and service providers to spread the word.
  • Another obstacle to sign-up : the website will be down for “maintenance” every Sunday for 12 hours (!).
  • If you need help finding a navigator (someone who can help guide you through the enrollment process), visit Get Covered Illinois   for assistance.
  • After much flip-flopping, Trump signed an executive order to stop the Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) payments.  These are payments for the silver level of ACA policies that reimburse insurance companies for the extra discounts they must give so people pay less for deductibles, co-pay and co-incurance.  The Attorneys General of 19 states (including IL) are suing the administration to reinstate these payments as they required by the law (The Affordable Care Act).
  • In the meantime, the cost of silver policies are expected to skyrocket.  Consumers should look at all levels of the policies on the ACA marketplace.  In some cases, gold policies (which offer more coverage) may even cost less than the silver level.
  • Do not let “auto-enroll” re-sign you for the silver level until you have checked out the alternatives.
  • Pay attention to details!  Sometimes prescription plans will not go into effect until medical deductibles have been met.
  • Consumer Alert!  Some disreputable insurance brokers have been cold-calling customers to sell them cheap health care policies, claiming they are part of the ACA marketplace and that they are “qualified” although they are not actually qualified.  Qualified policies provided coverage for the Essential Health Benefits mandated by the ACA.  If you buy an unqualified plan, you will be liable for the tax penalty when you file your taxes (see below).
  • Trump signed an executive order that the IRS not enforce the ACA tax penalty mandate.  This is non-binding and the IRS will still be enforcing the tax penalty!
  • Other recent executive orders: allowing associations to offer health insurance policies that do not have to follow ACA mandates and allowing businesses to not offer contraceptive coverage on the basis of moral objections as well as previously allowed religious objections.

For more information about getting covered, or if you would like to get involved, visit  ACASignUpProject.com .   Downloadable fliers to publicize enrollment information are available in English and Spanish at Indivisible ACA Signup Project Gallery.

There is a bipartisan bill in the Senate put forward by Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray,(D-Wash) which would restore the CSR payments and help stabilize the ACA marketplace.  However, Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader of the Senate, will only bring the bill forward for a vote if Trump will promise to sign it.  As of now, Trump has expressed support for it, withdrawn support for it, called CSR’s “pay-offs to insurance companies” (false) and has made other demands.  The status of this bill changes by the day, occasionally by the hour, so stay tuned for further updates!

ACA Open Enrollment Toolkit

ACA Open Enrollment Toolkit

This Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment toolkit provides proven strategies and templates for use in outreach to media and your community in order to raise awareness about Open Enrollment and drive traffic to HealthCare.gov, assisters, navigators, and brokers, and community enrollment events.

Here is everything you need. Just add your energy.

It’s An All Hands-On-Deck Time to Fight the Graham-Cassidy Bill

Make Calls, Write Emails to Crucial Republican Senators

Multiple news organization are reporting that the Senate Republicans may be one vote away from being able to pass the Graham-Cassidy bill and now is the time we need to double-down on calling Senators not only from our own state, but from crucial Republican states (see list below).

I am someone who is not comfortable making calls to strangers, especially senators in Washington.  I am also someone who has just spent 5-10 minutes making those calls, and it turned out to be not difficult at all.  I wrote down my own script to read when I made the calls – that felt easier and more natural than a script suggested on a website.  However, many people may prefer to use a script from a website (see an example below).  It’s best to do what feels most comfortable for you.  On most of the calls I made I left a message on voicemail, on a couple I spoke to a person, and on a few I wrote an email because the mailbox was full or the line was busy.

The script I wrote for myself was:

I would like to urge Senator ______ to vote no on the Graham-Cassidy bill.  Please don’t use the health of the American people to score political points.  This issue is too important for that.  Take time to carefully research ways to improve access to affordable health care and don’t rush a terrible bill through for political purposes.  Thank you.

A script from Jen Hoffman’s Weekly Activism Checklist:

Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m calling to express my opposition to the Cassidy-Graham plan to repeal the ACA. Congress needs to improve the Affordable Care Act, not repeal it and leave millions of people without options. Thanks.

 

More Threats to The Affordable Care Act.

It’s Time to Pick Up Your Phone and Make Some Calls!

Senators Lindsey Graham, Bill Cassidy, Dean Heller and Ron Johnson introduced the latest ACA repeal bill last week.  It would give states block grants instead of the tax credits, Medicaid expansion and cost-sharing payments that the ACA requires.  Protect Our Care IL in their Sept. 15 Weekly Digest, reports that it threatens over $1.4 billion in cuts to Medicaid in Illinois while raising premiums and cutting coverage for millions.

Even though  Politico previously gave this bill a low chance to succeed, the President and leading members of the party have been lobbying Republican Senators to support it. The most recent reports show that these efforts are swaying increasing numbers of Senators!  This is combined with continuing Administration threats to withhold the cost-sharing payments that stabilize the ACA individual plan marketplace and the resulting uncertainty is making insurers extremely nervous.

Premiums in Illinois are already projected to increase dramatically because of this uncertainty.  Below is a script to oppose the Graham-Cassidy bill.  I would also ask your Senators and Gov. Rauner to demand that cost-sharing payments be guaranteed.  The Republicans should not be playing politics with our health!

From Jen Hoffman’s Weekly Activism Checklist:

Action: Oppose the Graham-Cassidy plan to repeal the ACA.

Call: Your 2 senators (lookup).

Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m calling to express my opposition to the Cassidy-Graham plan to repeal the ACA. Congress needs to improve the Affordable Care Act, not repeal it and leave millions of people without options. Thanks.

(Senator Duckworth – 202-224-2854)

(Senator Durbin – 202-224-2152)

(Gov. Rauner – 217-782-0244)

 

Help Publicize the ACA Enrollment Period.

Americans Need Health Care and Need to Know When to Sign Up for It

From Jen Hoffman’s Weekly Activism Checklist:

Action: Counter the president’s efforts to decrease ACA enrollment.

The president has cut ACA’s advertising budget by 90%, but Americans need care. So let’s top 2017 enrollment of 11.4M through the power of social media. Ready?

Twitter: Visit this link and retweet.

Facebook: Visit this link and share the pinned post.

Bonus: Share the countdown to enrollment weekly through 12/15.