Thursday 4/19 – Today’s word is “CHOICE”, just not yours. Healthcare comments (4/23 deadline) and calls.

We’re heading back to the dark old days …

Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), our “choice” in health care was often determined by where we worked or by cost. However, insurance companies had many more “choices” available to them – to outright reject us, retroactively cancel policies, apply caps, limit coverage and charge us whatever they could. In 2009, 1 in 7 applicants with pre-existing conditions could not get insurance at any price from the four largest insurance companies. In 2016, an average of 27% of adult Americans under the age of 65 had health conditions that would leave them uninsurable pre-ACA. In case we’ve forgotten what it was like, BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois published their pre-existing conditions list here, (including a 25% upcharge for being overweight!), which will be immediately reinstated if the ACA is repealed.

“…informed decisions” doesn’t equal health insurance coverage.

Although Seema Verma, Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and MedicaidServices (CMS), says she “is committed to empowering patients to take ownership of their healthcare and ensuring they have access to the resources they need to make informed decisions,” she tweeted her approval of an article that called for “turning away patients based on their health status, or charging older, sicker patients more than three times what they charged younger, healthier ones — two valuable strategies for keeping costs down.”

Action #1: Comment on the Department of Health and Human Services’  (HHS) new rule on short-term health insurance.
Deadline – April 23rd. 

This rule is part of Trump’s effort to undermine the ACA: It is expected to entice younger and healthier people from the general insurance pool by allowing a range of lower-cost options that don’t include all the benefits required by the federal law — including plans that can reject people with pre-existing medical conditions. Most short-term coverage excludes benefits for maternity care, preventive care, mental health services or substance abuse treatment.

Learn more about the harmful effects of this new rule here.

Comment here. (There are currently only 6,562 comments)
Want to see some examples of other comments? Click here. You can see that most are short and personal.

Want more information? Check out this advocacy guide from familiesusa.org.

Action #2:  “Yes” on SB 910. Keep these harmful insurance products out of California.

States have broad authority to regulate short-term plans and can adopt new laws or issue new regulations or guidance that exceeds the standards in the proposed rule. Given other upcoming changes in 2019 that will also pose risks for the market, including the repeal of the individual mandate penalty, taking swift action is particularly important. Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York currently prohibit short-term plans, and California is pursuing SB910 (Hernandez) which prohibits a health insurer from issuing, selling, renewing, or offering a short-term limited duration health insurance policy for health care coverage in this state.

Minimal Script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Sen. [___] to strongly support SB-910 – “Short-term limited duration health insurance.”

Contacts:
State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (SD-19): 
SAC (916) 651-4019, SB (805) 965-0862, OX (805)988-1940 email
Not your state senator?:findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov.

Action #3:  Vote for people who put health care for all Americans first.

“I am losing my ability to speak, so I am asking Americans all around the country to be my voice,” said Barkan in a phone interview. “I want them to stand up and march and vote, because I am losing my ability to walk.”

Action #4:  For-profit-insurance companies vs. sick people. Why did we ever think this was a good idea?

Well, we didn’t. Over and over. Here’s an brief, yet coherent history of the fight for universal health care in the US, starting from the late 1800’s. Recently, the CEO of Goldman Sachs went on record to ask if curing patients was a sustainable business model. Let’s make sure our MoCs are aware of the potential inherent conflict between making money and saving lives, and ask them once again to support HR 676 – “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All”, and S 1804 – the “Medicare for All Act of 2017”.

Minimal script for representatives: I’m calling from [___] to ask Rep. [___] to support HR 676 -“Expanded and Improved Medicare for All”.

Check here to see if your representative is a supporter. Carbajal and Brownley are NOT cosponsors yet.

Minimal script for senators: I’m calling from [___] to ask Senator [___] to support S1804 – the “Medicare for All Act of 2017”.

Check here to see if your senator is a supporter. Thank Senator Harris for being a  cosponsor. Senator Feinstein hasn’t signed yet.

Contact

Senator Feinstein: DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Other Senator Contacts:  www.phoneyourrep.com

Reading: 

Keep a eye out these new health care bills:

“Medicare X” from Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) The Kaine-Bennet plan proposes a more moderate approach, allowing anyone to buy into a public plan using Medicare’s network of providers and physicians. But it phases in that option in slowly while still allowing employers to offer private coverage.

“Medicare Extra for All” from the liberal Center for American Progress

“Choose Medicare Act,”  Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)  touting thisas a way to prove Medicare is the best, most efficient way to provide people with coverage by allowing virtually everyone to choose a public plan alongside private options.

CA needs SB 562 to guarantee health care for all. (sandiego)

youThe Wisdom of the Ailing…The real reason health insurers won’t cover people with pre-existing conditions (Slate)

How Trump’s Obamacare administrator is taking a hatchet to Obamacare (latimes)

Repealing the ACA endangers women’s health and financial security (nationalpartnership.org)

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