CALL-IN DAY: While many calls are being driven into offices, sustained outreach to Congress is a very important component of keeping up the pressure to keep people covered especially as we head toward in-district actions during the February recess. To that end, SEIU is having another national call-in day on Tuesday, Feb. 14 and they are having activists take an additional step by posting on their social media platforms a personalized video, photo and/or written message about how they, their loved ones or patients would be affected if affordable healthcare, including Medicaid, is taken away. They are using the hashtag #WhatsYourPlan and asking folks to tag their members of Congress to get a greater reach.Please join SEIU by sharing the call-in numbers: 866-426-2631 (
English) and 877-736-7831 (Spanish). There is also a Facebook event invite that would be helpful to promote.DONATE: Tom Price was confirmed today as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Sec. Price takes over a time when the future of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and even Medicare are in jeopardy. Millions of patients are relying on the voices of doctors and medical students to protect their care. Please take a moment to give what you can to help ensure we have the funds necessary in the year ahead. Give today.
The confirmation today of Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services is seen as a necessary step forward in the Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Already, the administration has started to pull Obamacare mentions from the White House website, which demonstrates their zealous intent to initiate rapid repeal of the health law. Other terminology being floated for the scale-back process is 'Reconciliation Plus' or 'repeal and repair'. All of this still reflects the reality that there is still no consensus on a final strategy or replacement plan for the ACA. President Trump has said that his administration would release their own plan soon after Tom Price's confirmation. The House Freedom Caucus has stated that they will also introduce their bill next week, one that is said to be similar to Senator Rand Paul's (R-KY) proposal.
On Sunday, President Trump stated that a replacement for the ACA could stretch into 2018, a much longer time frame than he previously indicated. Paul Ryan has restated that a March to April timeframe is still the goal. Likewise there was some confusion this week about President Trump's position on Medicare drug price negotiation. Biopharma stock prices fell once again when White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer indicated that President Trump supported these negotiations. Spicer’s comments took investors by surprise after Trump appeared to have backed away from the idea last week after a meeting with top pharmaceutical CEOs.
On Wednesday, House Democrats gathered in Baltimore for their annual three-day retreat to strategize for the upcoming session of Congress. The theme for the retreat was “Fighting for All Americans,” and included a report on the 2016 election. Democrats are currently in resistance mode in regard to Trump's nominees and policies; but, some are questioning whether this is the right strategy to adopt. A new poll from Morning Consult and Politico suggests that while 56% of Democratic voters want their party to pursue obstruction, the majority of most other major demographics want Democrats to cooperate with the new president and Republican-controlled Congress. This insight could potentially guide congressional approaches to health reform and other health policy legislation moving forward.
This week Republicans also faced increased public backlash in town hall meetings. ACA supporters flooded town hall events this week in California, Florida and Utah, where Republican lawmakers faced jeering crowds and tough questions about repealing the ACA without an alternative in place. In tandem, polls are suggesting that Americans still don't understand that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are one in the same.
Advocacy and industry groups are also positioning themselves for a battle on various fronts. AARP is considering filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration over a potential age rating band change that was disclosed in a leaked HHS draft rule last week. And increasingly, states are taking action to shore up their health insurance market. Minnesota, for example, passed a one-time bailout for consumers in the individual insurance market facing high premiums, rejected an attempt to let insurers' offer bare bones coverage and laid the groundwork for public option for the individual market. Lastly, the 9th Circuit upheld the stay on Trump's immigration orderyesterday evening, signaling relief for many in the healthcare workforce serving patients in rural areas who depend on foreign-born physicians and healthcare professionals. We can expect there to be an appeal from the administration in the coming weeks, alongside continued reconciliation hearings and executive action from HHS Secretary Tom Price.
Doctors for America statement on confirmation of Tom Price as HHS Secretary:
"Doctors across the country are caring for patients who rely on Medicare, Medicaid, and their new insurance and protections gained through the Affordable Care Act. We disagree with Secretary Price's previous policy positions that we believe would weaken these programs for patients. We therefore call upon him as a fellow physician to examine the evidence and work with us to increase access to healthcare for everyone, especially those who need it the most." Read more here.