REPORT: Agenda for the Health Care Congress
For over a year, health care has been the dominant issue for Americans of all backgrounds, and the millions of Americans across the country who went to the polls in the 2018 midterms to voice their outrage over the Republican war on health care confirmed it. The mandate is clear: voters elected a “Health Care Congress” to lower costs and improve care. Today, Protect Our Care is releasing a comprehensive agenda for congressional action: The Health Care Congress: Cost, Coverage, Consumer Protections and kicking off a campaign in states and congressional districts across the country to pass it.
“This agenda is rooted in the voices of millions of Americans who took to the polls demanding affordable health care with strong protections for people with pre-existing conditions,” said Matt Sinovic, Progress Iowa Executive Director and State Director of Protect Our Care Iowa. “Health care was the dominant issue in the 2018 midterms and is the number one issue voters want Congress to fix in 2019. Americans want common-sense solutions that lower costs of drugs, stop surprise medical bills, and end junk insurance plans. Americans want Republicans to stop putting the interests of drug and insurance companies above the people’s interest. Now is the time to roll back Republican sabotage and move forward.”
“This agenda outlines how Americans in overwhelming numbers rejected the war on health care being waged by President Trump and his Republican allies,” Sinovic added. “The Republican repeal and sabotage agenda, that has defined the Republican party for almost a decade, cost them scores of seats during the midterm election and paved the way for Democrats to protect our care. Now as we enter this new ‘Health Care Congress,’ Protect Our Care is poised to hold Republicans accountable, both in DC and in their home districts, all while promoting our own agenda. Voters sent a clear message in November, now we must remain focused on health care to expand coverage, increase protections and make care affordable.”
We hope the policy prescriptions outlined in this agenda will serve as the blueprint for action in 2019. Protect Our Care will distribute this agenda to every member of Congress and will launch campaigns in states and congressional districts across the country to get it passed. Employing the same tactics it used to defeat repeal, Protect Our Care will conduct events, stage protests, host town hall meetings, engage grassroots activists and mount digital and paid advertising campaigns in support of this health care agenda and the efforts of health care champions in the House and Senate to pass it.
Read the full report here. A summary of the agenda from the report can be found below.
Do Everything Possible to Overturn the Federal Court Decision that Struck Down the Affordable Care Act
- Oppose the Texas ruling by a conservative federal judge in the Northern District of Texas that overturned the entire Affordable Care Act by passing a Senate Resolution to similar to the House measure that authorizes the House legal counsel to intervene in the lawsuit and oppose the Republican attorneys general, governors, and Trump Administration who are continuing the war on health care through the courts.
End the War on People with Pre-Existing Conditions
- Stop insurance companies from selling junk health insurance that allows them to deny quality, affordable coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. These kinds of short term plans should be limited to three-months with no option for renewal.
- Guarantee protections for pre-existing conditions and essential health benefits. Require all health plans to cover the “essential health benefits” included in the law, ensure guaranteed issue and community rating, and prohibit insurance companies from imposing lifetime and annual limits on the amount of care a patient can receive.
- Lower the costs of prescription drugs. Pass legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices for all beneficiaries; end price gouging by requiring drug manufacturers to give notice and justify significant price increases; and require transparency of rebate amounts.
- End surprise medical bills. 57 percent of Americans have received a surprise bill. Too many people go to a hospital or Emergency Room that is in their network, but get billed for services provided out-of-network, subjecting them to huge bills, as much as six figures. Congress should pass legislation to end surprise medical bills and limit the amount a provider can charge to a negotiated rate.
- Expand financial assistance by expanding the eligibility for premium tax credits above 400 percent of the federal poverty limit and increase the size of the tax credit for all income brackets.
- Expand services before deductibles, examples would include three primary care visits and one specialist visit that are not subject to a plan’s deductible.
End Republican Sabotage
- Fully support Open Enrollment by restoring funding to the pre-Trump levels and making all information about ways to sign up for coverage easily accessible for everyone.
- Oppose waivers that undermine the ACA and allow states to skirt key provisions of the law.
Strengthen Medicaid and Medicare
- Improve Medicare’s affordability by adding an out-of-pocket maximum after which beneficiaries would be protected from additional costs; including prescription drugs in the limit on out-of-pocket spending; adding coverage for vision, hearing, and dental; and making cost-sharing more affordable.
- Extend and increase federal funding for Medicaid expansion.
Conduct Oversight on Trump Administration Actions that Undermine The Affordable Care Act
- Topics to conduct oversight on include the Trump Justice Department’s decision not to defend all of the Affordable Care Act in federal court, cuts to outreach and navigator funding, rules opening the door to junk insurance, 1332 guidance that allows federal funds to be used to purchase skimpy health plans, relationships between Administration political appointees and regulated industries, the administration’s push to encourage states to impose work requirements on Medicaid coverage, drug prices and pharmaceutical profits.