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Health Equity Forum: ACA Round Up – April 2017

Affordable Care Act Defense Roundup: #FightforOurHealth while Congress is Home!

April 17 - April 22

The fight is not over yet! The GOP plan, also known as “Zombie Trumpcare” because it’s back from the dead, will continue to deprive millions of seniors, children and working poor Americans their health care. The President switched gears again this week, telling the Wall Street Journal he wants to fix health care before moving on to tax reform, causing more confusion and speculation.

In other news, the Administration released a final rule last Thursday supposedly to help stabilize insurance markets. However the new rule actually cuts the open enrollment period in half from November 1st to December 15th and makes it harder for people to enroll outside of open enrollment periods. The rule also allows insurers to pay a lower percentage of medical costs, and refuse coverage to people who haven’t paid their premiums. Instead of applauding the rule, insurers expressed concern about the rule’s impact on enrollment.

The President also threatened to withhold cost sharing reductions to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in hopes of forcing Democrats to negotiate. Cost sharing reductions are subsidies paid by the federal government to insurance companies, that help to make insurance more affordable for millions of Californians when they go to the doctor. Democrats responded with a threat to hold up the next spending bill if key ACA payments are not included in the plan. A coalition of hospitals, doctors and insurance companies also signed a letter to the president asking that the subsidies be paid in the interest of stabilizing the 2018 insurance market. Without the payments, many insurers could pull out of ACA exchanges or spike premiums, causing chaos in the market. By this weekend, talk of suspending the payments had simmered, but there is still a Republican call to repeal the ACA when they are back from recess.

In California news…
Despite being back in district, most California Republicans are laying low, and avoiding public meetings with constituents. The town halls that are planned are full of restrictions. They’re being held in small venues, require identification and registration, and allow only written questions submitted in advance. Still, there is some progress. After months of staying mum, Congressman Denham declared at a town hall meeting this week that he is a “no” on Republican healthcare legislation for now. "There are things in the Affordable Care Act we expect to stay," Denham added, such as coverage for pre-existing conditions and expanded Medicaid coverage.

With all this continued uncertainty, it is extremely important during this spring recess that our voices don’t get drowned out by Republicans who are angry that Congress didn’t repeal the ACA. You can see a list of town hall meetings by California representatives below. Even if you are in a deeply blue district, you can help by calling your Congress people to thank them for supporting health care. You can also help with phone banking in other districts. You can always visit the CPEHN ACA Defense Hub for ideas on how to get involved, or scroll to the end of this newsletter for a list of town hall meetings and other events.