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Thursday
May032018

The new Trumpcare: Don’t get sick on a weekend!

Last year, they tried to give us Trumpcare

This Friday marks the one-year anniversary of House passage of the GOP Trumpcare bill.With so many attacks on women’s health over the last year, it’s easy to forget just how disastrous the GOP bill would be for women. 

But we can’t afford to forget because we know Republicans haven’t given up on their dream of full repeal.  While rumblings in the right wing press about a secret group of House conservatives and White House officials negotiating to bring another Trumpcare bill back probably won’t come to much this year, there’s no question that opponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will make another run at full legislative repeal next year if they retain control of the House and Senate in November’s mid-term elections. That means holding those representatives accountable for how they voted.

So what exactly were House Republicans raucously celebrating at the White House this time last year? Their bill would have:
  • Barred Medicaid enrollees from using their coverage at Planned Parenthood.
  • Let states drop coverage of maternity care and other Essential Health Benefits, such as hospitalization, prescription drugs, and mental health services.
  • Let states allow insurance companies to charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions, including survivors of rape and domestic violence.
  • Caused at least 24 million people to lose their health insurance.
  • Let states bring back annual and lifetime spending limits on our health coverage.
  • Cut money from Medicaid, Medicare and other health programs to finance a huge tax cut for wealthy individuals. 
This May 4, make sure your member of Congress knows that you haven’t forgotten how he or she voted. Find the vote tally HERE

Here’s the new Trumpcare: Don’t get sick on a weekend!

Stymied in Congress, the Trump administration has been using administrative rule changes to try to sabotage the ACA. The administration’s ongoing regulatory attacks – through the recently finalized Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters, proposed rule onshort-term plans, and proposed rule on Association Health Plans – have serious consequences for women’s health care. These rules would water down important Essential Health Benefits like maternity care, and allow insurers to deny women care based on pre-existing conditions.

How can advocates fight back at the state level against the rollback of these important consumer protections? One state model to protect against the harmful changes that would result from the Trump administration’s rule to expand “short-term limited duration plans” comes from our Chicago-based regional coordinator, EverThrive Illinois.  

Short-term health plans offer only barebones coverage and don’t cover the care that women need. These plans can discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and are not required to cover the ACA’s 10 Essential Health Benefits, including maternity care. In fact, anew brief by the Kaiser Family Foundation that looks at benefits covered by short-term plans in major cities in each state, shows that none of these plans cover maternity care.

Under current law, short-term health insurance plans are intended to cover very short gaps in coverage and don’t have to comply with the ACA’s consumer protections. Under Obama-era regulations, they are limited to just three months. If Trump’s rule on short-term plans is finalized, these “junk” plans could last up to 364 days.

As part of their research into what, exactly, these junk plans do and (more likely) do not cover, EverThrive found a number of shocking fine print exclusions in the short-term plans offered in Illinois. One plan, for example, states they will not cover hospital room and board on a Friday or Saturday (unless for an emergency). The plan excludes pregnancy on the basis that it’s a preexisting condition, and also excludes coverage for any other condition “for which medical advice, diagnosis, care, or treatment was recommended or received” in the two years prior to the start of coverage.

EverThrive is working to illustrate the harmful consequences of short-term plans, particularly on Illinois women, by highlighting their stories. They’re collecting those stories here.  

EverThrive Illinois and their Protect Our Care Illinois colleagues are advocating for a proposed policy that would regulate short-term health plans in IllinoisSB2388 SFA1 would protect consumers in Illinois from short-term health plans by:
  • Defining short-term, limited duration health insurance in state law as individual health insurance, which means that all the consumer protections already enshrined in state law will apply to short-term health plans;
  • Preventing issuers of short-term plans from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions by refusing to sell coverage to them or canceling coverage when someone needs care;
  • Requiring that any short-term plan sold in Illinois be limited to 90 days of coverage and prevent the plan from being renewed within a one-year period; and
  • Requiring the application, sales, and marketing materials for short-term plans to include clear disclosures, such as: “WARNING! This plan may not cover all of the health care you need and may leave you with very high medical bills.”
Here are some other ways states can mitigate the harmful impact of short-term health plans.
 
Maine advocates sue Governor for delayed Medicaid expansion

Last November, our regional coordinator, Maine Consumers for Affordable Health Care (CAHC), played an important role in building the massive public support for Medicaid expansion that resulted in a victory for expansion by popular referendum. Mainers voted to extend coverage to 80,000 people who are currently in Maine’s coverage gap because they are ineligible for traditional Medicaid, but don’t earn enough to afford the private marketplace health plans offered through healthcare.gov.

Now CAHC and allies are suing Maine Governor Paul LePage, a conservative Republican, to force him to expand Medicaid. Supporters say the Governor has refused to join the coverage program despite the ballot initiative. He has vetoed bipartisan Medicaid expansion bills passed by the state legislature five times, and he campaigned hard against the referendum.

According to LePage, he won’t move forward with the expansion until lawmakers meet his funding requests for the program. Maine’s last legislative session ended without a funding agreement, which fueled the lawsuit against LePage’s administration. CAHC, Maine Primary Care Association, Maine citizens, Maine Equal Justice Partners and Mainers for Health Care have filed the lawsuit against the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

“The people of Maine have spoken and now it is time for the Governor to follow the law and implement Medicaid expansion,” said Kate Ende, Consumer Assistance Program Manager or CAHC.

CAHC has joined other Maine health care advocates in demanding action on Medicaid expansion during a special legislative session. They have also encouraged direct action by fellow Mainers to call their legislators. Maine would become the 32nd state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

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