Blog

Protect Our Care Illinois condemns the massive coverage losses demonstrated in the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score of the GOP Health Plan

Today, weeks after voting on the American Health Care Act, House Republicans finally know how much it will cost and how it will affect access to health insurance. Today the CBO confirmed what we already knew–the AHCA is dangerous and will strip health coverage from 23 million people. The CBO also confirmed that premiums will still increase by 20% next year.

As if that isn’t bad enough, the AHCA completely guts protections for people with pre-existing conditions by allowing states to waive crucial parts of the ACA. The CBO estimates that one-sixth of the population in the U.S., or 51 million people, will lose these protections completely. In this scenario, the CBO reports that the individual market could collapse in these states, leaving health insurance too expensive for people with pre-existing conditions and resulting in the return of annual and lifetime limits.

Finally, the CBO reminds us that the American Health Care Act still enacts devastating and permanent cuts to Medicaid, reducing federal funding by $834 billion. This will result in millions of people losing coverage, most of them seniors, kids and people with disabilities. This is Robin Hood in reverse, transferring health care from low- and moderate-income people to give $664 Billion in tax cuts to wealthy individuals and massive corporations.

The CBO score confirms what we already knew: the Republican repeal bill doesn’t fix healthcare, it destroys access and protections under the ACA and makes things worse – particularly for families and for states, like Illinois, who will bear the burden of the shifting costs. Protect Our Care Illinois condemns the actions of our GOP members of Congress who voted for this bill on May 4 – and we look to Senators Durbin and Duckworth to reject the AHCA and instead develop proposals that improve, expand, and protect healthcare.

Here are three things you can do NOW to make your voice heard:

  1. Call Gov. Rauner at 312-814-2121 and demand that he publicly oppose the American Health Care Act, which will cost Illinois billions of dollars in Medicaid funding and thousands of jobs.
  2. Call your member of Congress at 1-866-877-3303 and demand that they publicly oppose the American Health Care Act.
  3. Forward this immediately to 10 friends and family members in Illinois, especially if they live outside of Chicago. You can also share these steps on social media using #ilsaveaca

You can learn more about the next steps for the American Health Care Act and what you can do by listening to the latest POCIL podcast here!

Protect Our Care Illinois condemns House vote in favor of the AHCA

This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives muscled the American Health Care Act (AHCA) through to passage by the slim margin of 217-213. The vote came after several intense days of pressure from Congressional leaders to vote for the AHCA in spite of the opposition of millions of constituents and the entire health care sector. It is unfortunate that this pressure temporarily won out, but this careless, cruel, and tremendously unpopular bill still has far to go before becoming law. The Protect Our Care Illinois coalition and the thousands of concerned citizens it represents will oppose it every step of the way.

“Today’s vote brings Illinois one step closer to the brink, threatening a loss of health coverage for millions of Illinoisans, the loss of tens of thousands of Illinois jobs, and a loss of billions in federal funds that support Illinois’ state budget,” said AIDS Foundation of Chicago President/CEO John Peller. “It is simply unconscionable that any member of the Illinois Congressional Delegation would support this bill and put the health and financial well-being of several million Illinoisans with pre-existing conditions at risk. We are outraged that all seven House Republicans of the Illinois Delegation (Rep. Bost, Rep. Hultgren, Rep. Kinzinger, Rep. Davis, Rep. Shimkus and Rep. LaHood) supported it and we are frankly shocked at the reversal of so many promises to ensure those with pre-existing conditions were protected.

”The Protect Our Care Illinois coalition fiercely condemns this vote. Recent amendments to weaken protections against pre-existing condition discrimination made a bad bill even worse. Not only does it gut Medicaid and raise costs on older Americans by the thousands, it now lets insurance companies charge sick enrollees higher premiums, effectively pricing them out of care. Those with pre-existing conditions will be protected in name only and our health care system will return to the days where you can be denied care based on your health condition.

Simply put, this is a terrible bill that will cover fewer people, with weaker protections, at higher costs for Illinoisans.

The AHCA still has many procedural hurdles, including likely amendments in the Senate, floor debate and vote in the Senate, and a possible second vote in the House to accept changes from the Senate. The Protect Our Care Illinois coalition will continue to educate the public on the dangers of this bill and engage even more Illinoisans in the fight to protect Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. We implore Governor Rauner to speak out against the AHCA as it is voted on in the Senate and for the entire Illinois Congressional Delegation to vote against this bill if and when it returns to the House for a final vote.

Protect Our Care – Illinois is a statewide coalition of health care advocates, providers, consumers, and workers, working to prevent the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), prevent disastrous changes to Medicaid, and protect and expand access to quality affordable health care.

Call NOW! Vote on ACA repeal scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

The US House is debating the disastrous American Health Care Act today. This bill will rip health insurance away from 24 million people, make devastating cuts to Medicaid, and completely gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions; all while providing a massive tax cut for the wealthiest and major corporations.

Call your Representative RIGHT NOW at 1-866-877-3303 and demand that they vote NO on the American Health Care Act. Key members of Congress from Illinois are still undecided–your call is vital and could make all the difference.

The House is voting despite:

  • Not having an updated score from the Congressional Budget Office after the bill was amended twice;
  • A Wall Street Journal article pointing out how individuals getting health insurance from their employers (about 50 percent of Americans) could face annual and lifetime limits again;
  • Exempting themselves from the weakened protections forced on everyone else; and
  • AHCA being opposed by groups across the whole spectrum of the country:
    • Health providers including AMA, AAP, ACP, National Physicians Alliance, American Nurses Association, Association of American Physicians and Surgeons;
    • Hospitals — AHA, America’s Essential Hospitals, Catholic Health Association, Federation of American Hospitals;
    • Patient Advocacy Groups including American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, JDRF, March of Dimes, National Organization for Rare Diseases, National MS Society, WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease;
    • Hundreds of consumer advocacy organizations including AARP, APHA, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Disability Rights Network, Consumers Union, National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, and Young Invincibles; and
    • Non-Health Groups – American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, and National Farmers Union.

Please keep calling, keep the pressure up on social media, and come out to these protests, many which began at 9 a.m. this morning. 

SPRINGFIELD
Starting at 9 a.m.
235 S 6th Street
Outside and inside Rep. LaHood’s office 

CHAMPAIGN
Starting at 9 a.m.
2004 Fox Drive
Outside and inside Rep. Rodney Davis office

BLOOMINGTON
Starting at 9 a.m.
3004 G.E. Road, Suite 1B
Outside and Inside Rep. LaHood’s office

PEORIA
Starting at 9 a.m.
100 NE Monroe Street, Room 100
Outside and Inside Rep. LaHood’s office

CAMPTON HILLS
Starting at 5 p.m.
40W310 Lafox Road, #F2
Outside and inside Rep. Hultgren’s office

MARYVILLE
Starting at 9 a.m.
15 Professional Park Drive
Outside and inside Reps. Shimkus and Davis’s Office

O’FALLON
Starting at 9 a.m.
302 West State Street
Outside and inside Rep. Bost’s office

WHEATON
Starting at 4:45 p.m.
Arrowhead Golf Club 26W151 Butterfield Rd (Roskam)

Protect Our Care Illinois fiercely opposes the American Health Care Act and MacArthur Amendment

Against all logic and with a shocking lack of compassion, House Republicans and President Trump are plowing ahead with yet another attempt to pass the American Health Care Act. With the addition of the MacArthur amendment, this already dangerous bill has been made worse by completely gutting vital protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Protect Our Care Illinois stands in fierce opposition to this legislation, which will strip insurance away from more than 1 million Illinoisans, steal $40 billion in federal funds from our Medicaid program, and result in the loss of 60,000 jobs. The new MacArthur amendment is a despicable and shocking “compromise,” which will cause premiums to skyrocket for all Illinoisans with pre-existing conditions. Under this new plan, a person who has breast cancer in Illinois would likely pay $29,840 more per year in premiums, a pregnant woman would pay $18,020 more per year in premiums, and a parent would pay an extra $4,520 per year in premiums if their child has asthma.

“The American Health Care Act, now with the MacArthur amendment, is undeniably cruel and fiscally irresponsible,” said Dave Lowitzki, campaign manager for Protect Our Care Illinois. “There is not a single member of Congress that can claim to support people with pre-existing conditions while also supporting this bill, which will gut the protections that ensure health plans are affordable and comprehensive enough to meet the needs of people combating illnesses.”

The American Health Care Act does not respond to the concerns of Illinoisans and Protect Our Care Illinois urges every member of the Illinois Congressional Delegation and Governor Rauner to publicly and loudly condemn this dangerous bill.

Protect Our Care Illinois is a statewide coalition of health care advocates, providers, consumers, and workers, working to prevent the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), prevent disastrous changes to Medicaid, and protect and expand access to quality affordable health care.

The fight to undermine the ACA lives on

The decision on March 24, 2017 to indefinitely postpone a vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) was a thrilling, but temporary, victory in the campaign to protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid. Opponents of the ACA still have many opportunities to undermine the ACA and Medicaid. While news reports of new pushes to pass the an amended AHCA or other ACA repeal legislation are likely to persist, many of the most credible threats to the ACA and Medicaid will come from more indirect sources – decisions made by the Trump administration, decisions made by private insurance companies, from budget cuts, or even from offhand comments or tweets. These subtler dangers to our health care system pose serious threats in their own right, but also represent grave risks in the battle for public opinion. We must be ready to drive the public narrative before any sabotage take place, so that any blame for an underperforming ACA system is placed squarely at the feet of those who have deliberately undermined it.

ACA/Medicaid threats on the horizon

Here are threats to the ACA and Medicaid that remain even if there is not an imminent vote on an ACA repeal bill:

  • Discontinuing Cost-Sharing Reduction payments: The ACA provides subsidies – called Cost-Sharing Reductions (CSRs) — to help people with lower incomes pay for out-of-pocket costs (e.g., deductibles and co-payments). Six million people get CSRs and in 2016, 156,500 Illinois Marketplace enrollees received CSRs. The Trump administration has the power – right now – to end these subsidies thanks to a 2015 lawsuit alleging these payments are illegal. This the most clear and immediate risk to the ACA. Without the CSRs, actual premiums paid by clients could go up by 20% or more, insurers would drop out, and enrollment would decrease. This is already causing uncertainty and real harm to the prospects for the 2018 plan year, but could be easily addressed if the Trump administration publicly stated their intent to continue these payments, or if Congress appropriated the necessary funds.

 

  • Poor private insurer participation in the Marketplace: The ACA Marketplace depends on participation by private health insurers. Exits by large insurers such as United Healthcare and Aetna over the last year or two have damaged the law’s standing in the eyes of many and resulted in reduced competition and choice for enrollees. This is a problem – and it could get much worse. Insurers will be announcing from now until June their plans regarding 2018 participation and what they will charge in premiums. High profile exits or large premiums increases could destabilize the market and breathe new energy into the push to repeal the ACA. The uncertainty surrounding the future of the ACA contributes to the flight risk; conversely, agreements to resist short-term tinkering could stabilize the market.

 

  • Administrative policy changes: Many provisions of the law are determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services and other members of the administration. A number of changes – that the administration can make more or less unilaterally – could weaken the ACA. Some potential changes have already occurred through the “Market Stabilization Rules” that were just finalized this month and some proposed changes include weakening enforcement of the individual mandate, removing funding from the navigator program, and changing the definitions for Essential Health Benefits. Some of these changes do not even require formal public notice and could fly under the radar while doing real damage. Medicaid is also at risk due to an intention to allow states to impose work requirements, premiums, and other barriers in the name of demonstration projects or waivers. We must continue to monitor these actions and publicize them.

 

  • Policy riders: In Congress, controversial legislative changes are hard to pass on their own. They are instead often added to large pieces of legislation that need to pass, like government funding bills. These amendments to larger pieces of legislation are called ‘riders’ and they can do serious damage. In fact, the premium increases seen in 2016 were due in part to a policy rider that prohibited funds from being used to stabilize premium prices (known as risk corridor payments). This is technical and sneaky; but it can have a real impact. Legislation to fund the federal government before a government shutdown is being debated this week. We must be prepared to advocate against attempts to deconstruct the ACA through this back-door.

 

  • Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization: The biggest “must pass” health care legislation on deck in 2017 is the reauthorization of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Opponents of Medicaid could use this reauthorization as a bargaining chip to undermine the adult Medicaid program or other federal health programs. Legislation is likely to be negotiated over the summer and will need to be passed by Sept. 30. We need to monitor progress of this legislation.  It is not too soon to begin talking to representatives and senators about this important re-authorization.

Stay involved and speak out

This laundry list of horrors does not have to come to pass. Advocates must stay vigilant as we navigate this new, less straightforward phase of the campaign. We can and must speak out about them to make sure policy makers know we’re watching. Sign up for Protect Our Care – Illinois email alerts and follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date.

The most pressing issue for now is funding for the Cost-Sharing Reductions. Please view our CSR fact sheet for ideas on how to speak out.

The opponents of the ACA are counting on us letting our guard down and being able to slip these changes in unnoticed. But we can make them think twice if we let them know we have our eyes on them. And with commitment and a little luck, we can protect the ACA and Medicaid – now and for future generations.

Protect Our Care coalition reacts to defeat of Obamacare replacement plan

After a much-maligned and, according to opinion polls, widely unpopular proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was pulled from consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives Friday, the Protect Our Care Illinois Coalition issued the following statement:

CHICAGO – Today’s decision by Republican leadership in U.S. House of Representatives to withdraw a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) can be attributed in large part to the valiant opposition that health care consumers, workers, and advocates have mounted against a bill that would have stripped an estimated 24 million Americans of their health insurance, while inflating costs for millions more who remained covered.

It is clear that the campaign to preserve affordable health care for all Americans is strong and impactful. Protect Our Care Illinois thanks every Member of Congress who was prepared to vote this horrendous bill down. As heartened as we are by today’s results, we remain deeply dismayed that so many House members still were prepared to vote for the American Health Care Act, despite the havoc it would have unleashed – and in defiance of public opinion polls that showed sweeping majorities of voters staunchly opposed to the measure.

Indeed, a Quinnipiac poll released yesterday – before the latest revision of the bill had gutted the popular Essential Health Benefits protections included in Obamacare – showed that the ACHA failed to capture support from even a majority of Republican voters.

Here is in Illinois, we urge our Republican lawmakers to consult with their party leaders in Washington to urge them to focus on strengthening the protections in Obamacare that allowed tens of millions of Americans to obtain health insurance and guaranteed coverage for preexisting conditions and essential needs, such a doctor’s visits, lab tests, and maternity care.  These are all legacies of Obamacare that Americans support and the Republican replacement plan would have unraveled.

“Providers, patients, and concerned citizens across the country can breathe a sigh of relief as this ill-conceived bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been defeated,” said John Bouman, President of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and Protect Our Care Illinois leader. “We hope that leaders in Congress will now abandon their crusade to undermine the ACA and turn their attention to building upon its progress towards a just and humane health care system that cares for all.”

The next moves to expect from opponents of the ACA are unclear at this moment, but regardless, the Protect Our Care Illinois coalition will be ready to defend the six million Illinoisans with pre-existing conditions and the three million Illinoisans with Medicaid coverage who are currently benefiting from the ACA. Health coverage is a matter of life and death in many cases, and efforts to strip coverage from our neighbors must be called out for what they are and defeated.

Protect Our Care Illinois is a statewide coalition of health care advocates, providers, consumers, and workers, working to prevent the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), prevent disastrous changes to Medicaid, and protect and expand access to quality affordable health care.

Attend an ACA rally today, March 23

Today, the day we should be celebrating the 7th anniversary of the ACA, Speaker Ryan will call the American Health Care Act for a vote in the US House of Representatives. If passed, this bill will:

  • Strip health insurance away from 24 million people, including at least 1 million Illinoisans;
  • Reduce the quality of health insurance for everyone; and
  • Enact permanent and devastating cuts to the Medicaid program.

The bill does this all while giving a massive tax break to the wealthiest Americans and huge corporations.

This week we’ve asked you to do a lot–make phone calls, tweet at your legislator, and go live on Facebook—now we need you to show up. 

We have partnered with groups across the state to host anniversary celebrations, which can now double as protests of the disastrous GOP health bill. Concerned citizens will deliver birthday cake, balloons and pennies (copper is the traditional 7th anniversary gift!) to offices and talk about the danger to their community if the ACA is repealed.

Be heard! Attend one of the events below or grab some neighbors and go the Congressional office nearest you. Either way, be sure to post pictures and videos with #ILsaveACA!

Downtown Chicago Rally

4 p.m. – Kluczynski Federal Building
230 S Dearborn St, Chicago

12th District—Mike Bost

1 p.m. – O’Fallon Office
301, W State Street, O’Fallon

13th District—Rodney Davis

12 p.m. – Champaign Office
2004 Fox Dr., Champaign

3 p.m. – Decatur Office
243 S Water Street, Suite 100, Decatur

3 p.m. –  Maryville Office
15 Professional Park Dr, Maryville

5 p.m. – Taylorville Office
108 E Market, Taylorville

14th District—Randy Hultgren

3 p.m. – Campton Hills Office
40W310 Lafox Rd, #F2, Campton Hills

15th District—John Shimkus

3 p.m. – Maryville Office
15 Profesional Park Dr., Maryville

16th District—Adam Kinzinger

3 p.m. – Ottawa Office
628 Columbus ST, Suite 507, Ottawa

6 p.m. – Rockford
Kate’s Pie Shop Café & Records
6685 E State St, Rockford

18th District—Darin LaHood

12 p.m. – Springfield Office
235 S Sixth St, Springfield

3 p.m. – Peoria Office
100 NE Monroe St #100, Peoria

Watch the webinar: Defending the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid

Dowload the Slides!

This webinar is geared towards newer advocates working to defend access to quality, affordable health care. Watch the webinar to learn about  the latest threats to ACA and Medicaid; advocacy strategies, engagement opportunities, and community mobilization tips; how to connect with current advocacy efforts throughout Illinois; examples of actions you can take TODAY to protect our care; and available advocacy resources and support.

Speakers include:

– Stephani Becker, Senior Policy Specialist, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
– Maxx Boykin, Community Advocacy and Social Justice Manager, AIDS Foundation of Chicago
– Scott Cross, Volunteer Lead, Organizing for America-Springfield
– Daniel Rabbit, Project Manager of Health Policy, Heartland Alliance
– Kathleen Winters, Volunteer, The People’s Agenda-Champaign

Click here to download the slides!

Watch the webinar!


Webinar resources

Statement on CBO analysis that reveals 24 million Americans could lose health insurance

Today it was announced that the Republican plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act could cause 24 million Americans to lose health insurance, the independent Congressional Budget Office estimated. The House GOP promised repeal and replace but the latest bill is just repeal and destroy. This proposal takes comprehensive, high quality, affordable health insurance away from millions of Americans, increases out-of-pocket health care costs (particularly for older adults) and destroys Medicaid. It breaks the promises Republicans have made that no one will lose their coverage or see health care cost increase. The Protect Our Care Illinois coalition calls on all members of Illinois congressional delegation to oppose this current proposal. To learn more about the CBO analysis, click here.”

Obamacare replacement bill threatens higher health care costs, less insurance coverage for Illinois consumers, advocates warn

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Nearly one million Illinois working families would either lose their health insurance or face onerous increases in medical costs under the plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that Congressional Republicans introduced this week, according to the Protect Our Care Illinois Coalition.

Coalition members urged Illinois’ Congressional delegation, especially the members of the GOP majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, to oppose the legislation, which they described as a prescription for spiraling costs and shrinking coverage in health care available to state residents.   The coalition also cautioned that a bill with such jarring impacts deserves a full public debate, not the indiscriminate headlong rush to passage that has been on exhibition in the nation’s capital this week.

For the 350,000 Illinois residents who purchased private medical coverage on the Marketplace in 2017, higher costs loom as the GOP plan threatens to curb existing tax credits that have trimmed insurance premiums while eliminating financial (“cost-sharing reductions”) assistance that has lowered out-of-pocket expenses that include often-bruising deductibles.

Meanwhile, the plan would reverse the expansion of the Medicaid program, decimating an ACA reform that provided health insurance to 650,000 Illinois residents who had been previously floundering in a coverage void.   Medicaid expansion would devolve back to the states by 2020 under the Republican proposal, leaving beneficiaries at the mercy of an Illinois budget already incapacitated by staggering deficits and with no foreseeable resources to continue to support the program.

Jessica’s ACA Story

Chicago-area resident Jessica Gimeno would be one of those 650,000 Illinois residents caught in the resulting coverage breach.  In 2008 she was afflicted with a rare autoimmune disease that left her hospitalized and bedridden for a year.  Her medical expenses averaged $900 monthly, leaving her financially distressed and physically compromised.  Gimeno subsequently qualified for coverage under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion.

“Medicaid expansion changed my life,” Gimeno said.  “I have not had to worry about the costs of surgery, among many other expenses.  But under this new ACA replacement plan, it appears that I’m doomed to lose my coverage.  If that happens, it’s no exaggeration to say I fear for my life.  I was in this plight before Medicaid expansion, so I know just how precarious conditions are without it.”

With ramifications this dire, members of the Protect Our Care Illinois Coalition condemned the cloak of secrecy that surrounded deliberations on the bill and ensuing haste to pass it with minimal public input – even before the Congressional Budget Office, a non-partisan agency that reviews the financial implications of legislation has had an opportunity to appraise its impacts.

“It is disastrous and reckless to jam a law through the House in one week that will literally impact millions of people in Illinois and tens of millions across the country, Claudia Lennhoff, Executive Director of Champaign County Champaign County Health Care Consumers (CCHCC), a Protect Our Care Illinois member said. “The people of Illinois want and deserve an open and transparent process, with actual coverage and budget implications from the CBO.”

The coalition urged all Illinois residents to contact their Congressional representatives at http://protectourcareil.org/index.php/take-action-page/, and ask them to oppose the legislation.