Doctors for America is circulating a news round-up to help keep our membership updated on the latest in health reform and ACA repeal activities in the United States. For additional information on how to take action, please visit the DFA ACA resource page.
ACA Round Up - February 24, 2017
Join health professionals' rallies this Saturday, February 25 to echo the "don't take away our patients' care" message in front of local Congressional and governor offices. Stories, signs and masses in front of these offices will demonstrate how important care and coverage are in sickness & wellness, and life & death for the patients we treat.
Save the date! Please join us for the 2017 Doctors for America National Leadership Conference to be held in Tampa, Florida on May 6th and 7th. A leadership training will be offered on Friday, May 5th. Limited spaces will be available for the training. Mark your calendars. Registration will be opening soon.
This week marks the first extended Congressional recess of President Donald Trump's tenure. The Trump administration has indicated that they may be taking a more hands-off approach to drafting health legislation, and that health law repair is still a viable consideration in this ongoing debate. The administration continues to take action on the ACA, by extending exchange filing deadlines, postponing action on their lawsuit against Obamacare exchange subsidies and issuing a one year extension for individual and small-group health plans that do not comply with ACA coverage rules.
In a shift from previous strategy, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told House Republicans that the administration would not be sending them a replacement plan. Instead, the White House plans to "cooperate and provide input" into the GOP plan. President Trump had previously stated that his administration would release a plan shortly after the HHS Secretary confirmation. On Wednesday, Trump indicated that a healthcare plan would be coming in "mid to early March."
Last week Paul Ryan had indicated that the Republicans would be ready to submit a bill after recess; however, events this week have shown that there is still no consensus on many specifics. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) indicated that she would not vote to repeal Medicaid expansion or support legislation to pull federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Other Republicans have expressed support for maternity coverage, an issue that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid director nominee Seema Verma had indicated might be on the table, during her hearing last week. Conservative House members are pushing for a fast repeal of Obamacare with only a bare-bones replacement to follow. Other political leaders are interested in taking more time to come up with a replacement plan. And former House Speaker John Boehner predicted on Thursday that a full repeal and replace of Obamacare is “not what’s going to happen” and that Republicans will instead make fixes to the law. His statements were countered quickly by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) at a Conservative Political Action Committee meeting, dismissing constituent concerns at recess week townhalls. At this same meeting Senator Cruz predicted that there would be another Supreme Court vacancy this summer.
Concurrently, groups took the opportunity to express their point of view. On Wednesday, One Nation, an advocacy group linked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, launched an ad campaign in nine states urging repeal and replace. This sent a message to the Freedom Caucus and other conservative groups that their repeal-first demands are out of step with public opinion. Alongside this, more than 130 mayors signed a bipartisan letter to congressional leaders in support of several ACA provisions. Marilyn Tavenner, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, and Rick Pollack, American Hospital Association's president and CEO, have also urged Congress to focus on stabilizing the individual health insurance exchange for 2018 before attempting to tackle Medicaid reform. The two groups have been largely silent up to this point and so such comments represent a significant voice in dialogue around health reform. The National Governors Association meeting kicks off today, with health care as a major focus of discussion. And lastly, spirited town hall meetings have continued to play a role in shaping political discourse. Meetings between members of Congress and health care professionals, patients, caregivers and hospital managers continue to take place.
MEMBERS IN ACTION
Have you hosted a house meeting or meet with your member of Congress? If so, send an update and photo to DFAHQ@drsforamerica.org. If not, there is still time! Learn more at the DFA House Meeting (Get Together) Host Guide.
Connecticut Students Hold Vigil
Kristen Zozulin shares that, as part of the #ProtectOurPatients Day of Action, medical students with the DFA chapter at Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University hosted a "Vigil for the Victims of Healthcare Inequity," where they discussed inequity and bias in the U.S. healthcare system as well as medical school. They also talked about ways to get students and faculty more involved in discussions and events promoting diversity and justice in healthcare.
Kentucky Panel Discussion
Mallika Sabharwal, a second year student at the University of Louisville School of Medicine (ULSOM) shares that ULSOM Students for a National Health Program, Student National Medical Association, and Advocates for Healthcare Information held a health care panel discussion with Representative John Yarmuth, Dr. Susan Buchino, and Dr. Barbara Casper to focus on the impact of the ACA in Kentucky. Panelists discussed the financial and social benefits of ACA implementation in the state and the likely outcomes of ACA repeal. Medicare-for-all was also discussed as the best alternative to/ improvement upon the ACA (to applause from the audience). Over 100 people attended, which included many faculty and students.
Ohio Recess Activity
Gloria Tavera shares that a team of advocates stood outside Sen. Rob Portmans' office in downtown Cleveland. They urged no repeal without a replacement that covers more people, not less, and provides healthcare that is at least as good as what Rob Portman currently enjoys as a US Senator. Students at CWRU also demonstrated outside of the office of Senator Portman. They delivered a letter sharing a patient story to his office and emphasized that his constituents are disappointed in the lack of public town halls this week. Read more about their recess activity in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Washington House Meeting
Dr. Lisa Plymate held a meeting at Charles Mayer's house in Seattle with a coalition of doctors, all intent on saving the ACA, Medicaid and Medicare. They had a great group of 20 people in attendance. The next in-person meeting will be 3/12 at yet another home - they’re rotating for fun.
Tell us about what you are up to! Email your updates and photos to DFAHQ@drsforamerica.org.
Modern Healthcare: Filing extensions may not be enough to keep insurers in individual market
Center on Budget and Public Priorities: Report on House Republican proposals to radically overhaul Medicaid would shift costs, risks to states
The Hill: Boehner: Obamacare repeal and replace 'not going to happen'
Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll: The Public's Views on the ACA
CNN Money: Republicans postpone settling Obamacare subsidies lawsuit
Bloomberg: Allergan CEO pushes Trump to lead drug price discussions
Modern Healthcare: Anthem hopes to close Cigna deal under Trump Justice Department