I think that I mentioned that an important issue for the Mid-Term elections was going to be healthcare and last week look how health care was treated. Peter Sullivan wrote that the Senate on last Wednesday defeated a Democratic measure to overrule President Trump’s expansion of non-ObamaCare insurance plans as Democrats seek to highlight health care ahead of the midterm elections.
The Democratic measure would have overruled Trump’s expansion of short-term health insurance plans, which do not have to cover people with pre-existing conditions or cover a range of health services like mental health or prescription drugs.
It was defeated on an extremely narrow, mostly party-line 50-50 vote, with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) voting with Democrats in favor of overturning the short-term plans.
Republicans argue the short-term plans simply provide a cheaper option alongside more comprehensive ObamaCare plans.
Democrats forced the vote ahead of the midterms in an attempt to put health care front and center in the campaign. Democrats said Republicans voting to keep in place these “junk” insurance plans that do not have to cover pre-existing conditions was another example they can use to paint the GOP as wrong on health care.
“In a few short weeks the American people will head to the polls where they can vote for another two years of Republican attempts to gut our health-care system, or they can vote for Democratic candidates who will safeguard the protections now in place and work to make health care more affordable,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said on the Senate floor Wednesday.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Health Committee, forcefully pushed back, saying short-term plans provide a cheaper option than ObamaCare and if people want full ObamaCare plans with all the protections, they can still have them.
With short-term plans, Alexander said the message is “you can pay less with less coverage and at least you will have some insurance.”
“But our Democratic friends will say, ‘Oh no, we don’t want to do anything that will lower the cost of insurance,’” Alexander added.
Health-care experts say the short-term plans pose a risk of siphoning healthy people away from ObamaCare plans, leading to an increase in premiums for those remaining in the ObamaCare plans.
“The rule threatens to split and weaken the individual insurance market, which has provided millions of previously uninsured people with access to quality coverage since the health care law went into effect,” a range of patient groups, including the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association, said in a joint statement this week opposing the Trump administration’s short-term plans rule.
The rules that Democrats seek to overturn, which the Trump administration finalized in August, lifted a three-month restriction on short-term plans, allowing them to last up to a year. Critics say this makes the plans not really “short-term” at all.
“Our constituents deserve more options, not fewer,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday. “The last thing we should do is destroy one of the options that are still actually working for American families.”
Scott Horsley mentioned that USA Today published an opinion column by President Trump Wednesday in which the president falsely accused Democrats of trying to “eviscerate” Medicare while defending his own record of protecting health care coverage for seniors and others.
The column — published just weeks ahead of the midterm elections — underscores the political power of health care to energize voters. But it makes a number of unsubstantiated claims.
Here are 5 points to know
1. The political context: Healthcare has emerged as a dominant issue on the campaign trail in the run-up to the November elections. According to the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks congressional advertising, health care was the focus of 41 percent of all campaign ads in September, outpacing taxes (20 percent), jobs (13 percent) and immigration (9 percent). Democrats are particularly focused on health care, devoting 50 percent of their ads to the issue, but health care is also a leading issue in Republican commercials (28 percent), second only to taxes (32 percent).
Perhaps sensing that Democrats are gaining traction, Trump has decided to go on the attack, targeting the Democratic proposal known as “Medicare for All.”
2. Cost of the plan: Trump claims that expanding the federal government’s Medicare program would cost$32.6 trillion over a decade. But as Business Insider reports, that would actually be a discount compared with the nation’s current health care bill.
Trump’s figure was calculated by the libertarian Mercatus Center, but he fails to note that total health care spending under Medicare for All would be about $2 trillion less over the decade than currently projected. The federal government would pay more, but Americans, on the whole, would pay less.
Remember that the U.S. already spends far more per person on health care than does any other country. And when you count the tax break for employer-provided insurance, the federal government already pays about two-thirds of this bill. But because of the fragmented private insurance system, the government gets none of the efficiency or buying power that a single-payer system would provide.
3. Health care rationing: Trump claims — with no supporting evidence — that “the Democratic plan would inevitably lead to the massive rationing of health care Doctors and hospitals would be put out of business. Seniors would lose access to their favorite doctors. There would be long wait lines for appointments and procedures. Previously covered care would effectively be denied.”
The detailed implementation of any single-payer plan would, of course, be subject to substantial negotiation. But the Medicare for All bill drafted by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., states explicitly that “Nothing in this Act shall prohibit an institutional or individual provider from entering into a private contract with an enrolled individual for any item or service” outside the plan.
4. Pre-existing conditions: Trump notes that as a candidate, he “promised that we would protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions.” In fact, Trump and his fellow Republicans tried — unsuccessfully — to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which guarantees insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. GOP plans would leave it up to the states to craft alternative protections. In addition, Republican attorneys general have sued to overturn Obamacare’s protections, and the Trump administration has declined to defend them.
America’s Health Insurance Plans, the trade group for the insurance industry, warns that ending the Obamacare guarantee could result in hardship for the estimated 130 million Americans under 65 with pre-existing conditions.
“Removing those provisions will result in renewed uncertainty in the individual market, create a patchwork of requirements in the states, cause rates to go even higher for older Americans and sicker patients, and make it challenging to introduce products and rates for 2019,” AHIP said in a statement in June.
5. The strength of Medicare: Trump wrote that “Democrats have already harmed seniors by slashing Medicare by more than $800 billion over 10 years to pay for Obamacare. Likewise, Democrats would gut Medicare with their planned government takeover of American health care.”
He is repeating a claim that was widely debunked during the 2012 election. The Affordable Care Act actually strengthened the solvency of Medicare, but it has since been weakened again by the GOP tax cut.
The president is trying to play on the fears of seniors — who vote in large numbers — with the claim that any effort to improve health security for younger Americans must come at their expense. But that is a false choice.
Donald Trump: Democrats ‘Medicare for All’ plan will demolish promises to seniors
Our dear President recently stated “the Democrats want to outlaw private health care plans, taking away freedom to choose plans while letting anyone cross our border. We must win this.”
Throughout the year, we have seen Democrats across the country uniting around a new legislative proposal that would end Medicare as we know it and take away benefits that seniors have paid for their entire lives.
Dishonestly called “Medicare for All,” the Democratic proposal would establish a government-run, single-payer health care system that eliminates all private and employer-based health care plans and would cost an astonishing $32.6 trillion during its first 10 years.
As a candidate, I promised that we would protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions and create new health care insurance options that would lower premiums. I have kept that promise, and we are now seeing health insurance premiums coming down.
I also made a solemn promise to our great seniors to protect Medicare. That is why I am fighting so hard against the Democrats’ plan that would eviscerateMedicare. Democrats have already harmed seniors by slashing Medicare by more than $800 billion over 10 years to pay for Obamacare. Likewise, Democrats would gut Medicare with their planned government takeover of American health care.
The Democrats’ plan threatens America’s seniors
The Democrats’ plan means that after a life of hard work and sacrifice, seniors would no longer be able to depend on the benefits they were promised. By eliminating Medicare as a program for seniors, and outlawing the ability of Americans to enroll in private and employer-based plans, the Democratic plan would inevitably lead to the massive rationing of health care. Doctors and hospitals would be put out of business. Seniors would lose access to their favorite doctors. There would be long wait lines for appointments and procedures. Previously covered care would effectively be denied.
In practice, the Democratic Party’s so-called Medicare for All would really be Medicare for None. Under the Democrats’ plan, today’s Medicare would be forced to die.
The Democrats’ plan also would mean the end of choice for seniors over their own health care decisions. Instead, Democrats would give total power and control over seniors’ health care decisions to the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.
The first thing the Democratic plan will do to end choice for seniors is to eliminate Medicare Advantage plans for about 20 million seniors as well as eliminate other private health plans that seniors currently use to supplement their Medicare coverage.
Next, the Democrats would eliminate every American’s private and employer-based health plan. It is right there in their proposed legislation: Democrats outlaw private health plans that offer the same benefits as the government plan.
Americans might think that such an extreme, anti-senior, anti-choice and anti-consumer proposal for government-run health care would find little support among Democrats in Congress.
Unfortunately, they would be wrong: 123 Democrats in the House of Representatives — 64 percent of House Democrats —, as well as 15 Democrats in the Senate, have already formally co-sponsored this legislation. Democratic nominees for governor in Florida, California, and Maryland are all campaigning in support of it, as are many Democratic congressional candidates.
Democrats want open-borders socialism
The truth is that the centrist Democratic Party is dead. The new Democrats are radical socialists who want to model America’s economy after Venezuela.
If Democrats win control of Congress this November, we will come dangerously close to socialism in America. Government-run health care is just the beginning. Democrats are also pushing massive government control of education, private-sector businesses and other major sectors of the U.S. economy.
Every single citizen will be harmed by such a radical shift in American culture and life. Virtually everywhere it has been tried, socialism has brought suffering, misery, and decay.
Indeed, the Democrats’ commitment to government-run health care is all the more menacing to our seniors and our economy when paired with some Democrats’ absolute commitment to ending enforcement of our immigration laws by abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That means millions more would cross our borders illegally and take advantage of health care paid for by American taxpayers.
Today’s Democratic Party is for open-borders socialism. This radical agenda would destroy American prosperity. Under its vision, costs will spiral out of control. Taxes will skyrocket. And Democrats will seek to slash budgets for seniors’ Medicare, Social Security, and defense.
Republicans believe that a Medicare program that was created for seniors and paid for by seniors their entire lives should always be protected and preserved. I am committed to resolutely defending Medicare and Social Security from the radical socialist plans of the Democrats. For the sake of our country, our prosperity, our seniors and all Americans — this is a fight we must win.
And now the Vulnerable Republicans throw ‘Hail Mary’ on pre-existing conditions
Jessie Hellman reported that just recently dozens of vulnerable House Republicans have recently signed on to bills or resolutions in support of pre-existing conditions protections, part of an eleventh-hour attempt to demonstrate their affinity for one of ObamaCare’s most popular provisions.
Thirty-two of the 49 GOP incumbents in races deemed competitive by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report have backed congressional measures on pre-existing conditions in the past six weeks, according to an analysis by The Hill.
The moves, coming in the final weeks of the midterm campaign cycle, mark a course reversal for members of a party that for years railed against ObamaCare, also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and called for its repeal.
Now, facing the threat of a “blue wave” and an onslaught of health-care attacks from Democratic candidates, vulnerable Republicans are running ads on pre-existing conditions and co-sponsoring measures that critics deride as meaningless.
The congressional resolutions are “a quick Hail Mary for a list of endangered incumbents,” said Thomas Miller, a resident fellow at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, and co-author of “Why ObamaCare is Wrong for America.”
“They’re intended to provide at least some legislative cover in the event that they can read the polls and know there’s been a stampede of support for the broad-brushed pre-existing conditions protections similar to those in the ACA,” he said.
A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in August found that more than 72 percent of Americans think the protections — prohibiting insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or charging them more for coverage — should remain law.
Democrats in June seized on the Trump administration’s announcement in court that it would not defend ObamaCare’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The Department of Justice sided in large part with the 20 Republican state attorneys general who filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn ObamaCare.
Now Democrats, who are looking to flip both the House and Senate, are tying Republicans to that decision while highlighting the GOP’s ObamaCare repeal-and-replace efforts, which they say would have diminished pre-existing conditions protections for people in the individual market.
Tyler Law, the national press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), said the “overwhelming majority” of campaign ads from the DCCC and Democrats have focused on health care, with pre-existing conditions as the central theme.
“Republicans are stuck on defense, forced to respond to devastatingly effective ads on their record on pre-existing conditions, and touting nonbinding resolutions as they panic because they see the political fallout,” Law said.
“Republicans clearly recognize how politically disastrous their policies are in regards to pre-existing conditions,” he added. “They are now just making up an alternative record on which all of a sudden they seem to care about pre-existing conditions.”
Reps. David Young (Iowa) and Pete Sessions (Texas) — two Republicans running in competitive races this year — introduced separate resolutions in September supporting pre-existing conditions protections. Later that month, Rep. Steve Knight (R-Calif.), who is locked in a toss-up race, introduced a similar bill.
Another measure — the Pre-existing Conditions Protection Act of 2017 — was introduced by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) in February of last year but has attracted 16 Republican co-sponsors in the past month and a half — all but four of whom are running in competitive races. Twenty Republicans in competitive races co-sponsored the legislation last year.
Of the 23 Republican incumbents who are considered to be most in danger of losing their seat, according to Cook Political Report, 18 co-sponsored at least one of the resolutions or bills since September.
The measures, however, are more of a political statement. They aren’t expected to pass or even get a markup at the committee level.
“It’s a political gesture,” Miller said. “You don’t introduce bills in September of 2018 with the intent of marking it up.”
Democrats say it’s part of a transparent attempt by the GOP to deflect from their failed efforts to repeal ObamaCare.
“They’re trying to claim they support protections for people with pre-existing conditions. It’s really disingenuous,” said Maura Calsyn, managing director of health policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. “They’re hoping the public is going to ignore their past votes and their past statements that they don’t support the ACA.”
While some Republicans have pointed to their vote in favor of the GOP-backed American Health Care Act as proof they support protections for pre-existing conditions, Democrats argue that the legislation didn’t match the protections guaranteed by the ACA.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded last year that under the GOP bill, people with pre-existing conditions “would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law if they could purchase it at all.”
Vulnerable Republicans have also been running ads about pre-existing conditions, sometimes with a focus on their family members.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who is a toss-up race against Democrat Harley Rouda, recently released an ad focusing on his daughter’s pre-existing condition — leukemia.
“So for her and all our families, we must protect America’s health-care system,” Rohrabacher says in the ad. “That’s why I’m taking on both parties, and fighting for those with pre-existing conditions.”
Rohrabacher, who voted multiple times to repeal the ACA, signed on to legislation Tuesday supporting pre-existing conditions protections.
“The Republicans who are pushing now to clean things up three weeks up before the election aren’t able to do it,” said Amanda Harrington, director of communications for Protect Our Care, a pro-ObamaCare advocacy group that is involved in the midterms. “The deficit they have created themselves on the issue of health care is far too steep for them to climb.”
There are many fights going forward as we get closer to the Mid-terms and if the majorities change in the House and Senate there are going to be many more. My hope is that the children in both the House and the Senate grow up and realize that they had better learn how to work together.
On my visit to California to spend some time with my daughter, I realized how bad things still were when we discussed the last few weeks and even though Judge Kavanaugh was investigated 7 times she still believed that he was a horrible person. There was no pursuing further discussion with her or anyone else in her group of graduate students.
I was amused last week when a favorite patient of mine and a long time strategist for the Democrat party was seen in my office. As I entered the exam room she raised her right hand and flashed me a peace sign. She then apologized for the behavior of her party during the Kavanaugh hearings and that she and her husband warned them of the possible blowback.
Remember, this lady agreed with me that no matter what good pieces of legislation put to a vote before the Mid-Term elections that the Democrats would vote against, even if the legislation was what the Democrats would “normally” be in agreement at any other time. What a farce and now how do we correct this type of behavior? I’m not sure unless we vote all of those in the House and the Senate out and find some candidates who really want to improve our country despite the media who fight each day to upset our free country for a sound bite to capture the next media attention spot despite the facts.