Fighting Back: – Sen. Hirono on the Senate ‘Healthcare’ Bill: “In Hawaii we call this kind of flimflammery ‘shibai’.”

The weekly Fighting Back post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

Found on the Internets

The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Senate Democrats:

(During the July 4th work period, Senate Democrats have been holding dozens of events back home listening to their constituents about how the Senate Republican healthcare bill would threaten their access to affordable, quality care. For the Weekly Democratic Address, Senate Democrats released a new video highlighting how they have long been sounding the alarm against the “mean” Senate Republican healthcare bill, which would be devastating to millions of Americans.)

Senate Democrats applaud constituents for fighting GOP healthcare bill at town hall events

Nine Senate Democrats are celebrating progressive activists holding lawmakers’ feet to the fire over their Republican counterparts’ plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“We know that the Senate Majority is still focused on passing a bill that will raise costs for all Americans, that will lower the health care coverage and medical care for many, many, many tens of millions of people, and the great insult of this whole debate is that the savings being used will be giving a tax cut for wealthiest few Americans, which does not represent real American values, certainly in my judgment,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said in a statement delivered in the party’s weekly address.

The group of Democratic lawmakers applauded constituents for keeping local town hall events scheduled during the Fourth of July recess focused on healthcare, questioning Republicans about their plans for Obamacare.[…]

Sens. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin were among those applauding their party’s efforts in blocking the bill.

The video featured Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. also.

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

(Link to Nancy Pelosi Newsroom here)


There was no Nancy Pelosi weekly news conference on Thursday as Congress is on their 4th of July recess.

From Nancy Pelosi’s web site …

The Affordable Care Act is Benefiting the U.S. Economy & the Economic Security of American Families

Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, a number of studies have documented how it has succeeded in reducing the uninsured rate to an historic low, expanding coverage for millions of Americans, and also has made improvements in the nation’s health care system. What the ACA has also done is benefit the U.S. economy and the economic security of American families. This fact sheet provides an overview of some of the key economic benefits of the ACA.


16.6 Million Private Sector Jobs Have Been Created Since the ACA Became Law

– The private sector has added 6 million jobs in 87 consecutive months of job growth since the Affordable Care Act became law, the longest uninterrupted job growth on record.

– Of the jobs created since the health care law was enacted, 2 million of them have been created in the health care sector alone. For the last several years, health care jobs have grown more than three times faster than overall jobs.

– Of the 2 million health care jobs created since the health care law was enacted,35 million have been jobs in the offices of health care practitioners and in other ambulatory care services.
Of the 2 million health care jobs created, 430,000 have been in hospitals.
– And of the 2 million health care jobs created, 228,000 have been in nursing and residential care facilities.

Repealing the ACA Would Be a Job-Killer

– A study by the Commonwealth Fund and the Milken Institute School of Public Health in January found that repealing the two key coverage provisions in the ACA – Medicaid expansion and premium tax credits – would result in a $140 billion cut in federal health care funding in 2019, leading to the loss of 2.6 million jobs in 2019, rising to nearly 3 million lost jobs by 2021. Nearly all these lost jobs would be private-sector jobs. A third of these lost jobs would be in health care, but two-thirds would be in other industries such as construction, real estate, retail trade, and finance.
– The study highlights how federal health funding – such as Medicaid expansion and premium tax credits – stimulates jobs and economic activity – and, conversely, how repealing or slashing federal health funding would result in lost jobs and less economic activity.
– Much of this additional federal funding flows to health care providers, such as hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies. Most of the revenue earned by health care providers is then used to pay staff and to purchase goods and services needed for medical practice. In short, the payments made to health care providers are transformed into income for workers and for downstream businesses.
– Finally, the workers in health care and other sectors use their incomes to purchase food, pay mortgages or rent, buy transportation, finance their children’s education, and so on. Thus, the additional federal funding serves as an investment that continues to cycle and multiply through the economy.
– The study documents how, when federal funding is cut back, the cycle runs in the reverse direction and spurs cuts by health care providers and spending reductions by workers and other businesses, leading to job losses and business cutbacks.


The Health Care Sector, Strengthened by the ACA, Has Played an Outsize Role in the Economic Recovery

– The health care sector, strengthened by the ACA, has played an outsize role in this recovery. If it hadn’t been for the health care sector, this recovery would have been even slower than it has been.
– Thanks in part to the investments in health care in the ACA, the health care sector now makes up almost one-fifth of U.S. gross domestic product and is the nation’s second-largest source of overall employment – accounting for about one in eight private-sector jobs.
– Over the last seven years, a number of sectors in the economy have continued to struggle somewhat – such as retailing and manufacturing. The strong performance of the health care sector during these seven years has helped make up for these other problem areas.
– For example, as the New York Times (5/6/17) notes, “While manufacturing employment has fallen nearly 40 percent in northeastern Ohio since 2000, the number of health care jobs in the region has jumped more than 30 percent over the same period.”

Repealing the ACA Would Slow GDP Growth and Weaken the Economic Recovery

– The study by the Commonwealth Fund and the Milken Institute School of Public Health in January found that repealing the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and premium tax credits, in addition to leading to the loss of 2.6 million jobs in 2019, would also lead to a cumulative $1.5 trillion loss in gross state product across the country and a $2.6 trillion reduction in business output from 2019 to 2023.
– The study found that the economic hardships of repeal for state governments and for health care providers would be particularly serious. States would lose revenues at the same time millions of their residents could lose their health insurance, increasing the need to assist residents in obtaining care and assist health care providers in offsetting uncompensated costs.
– Studies have estimated that repealing ACA’s Medicaid expansion and premium tax credits would double the number of uninsured Americans. As millions lose their insurance, hospitals and other health care providers would see their uncompensated medical care cost soar by $1.1 trillion from 2019 to 2023, and they would experience major revenue losses as well.


The ACA Has Contributed to A 50 Percent Drop in Personal Bankruptcies Since 2010

– According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, the number of personal bankruptcies has dropped by 50 percent since 2010 – dropping from 1,536,799 in 2010 to 770,846 in 2016. The ACA was a key factor in the decline.
– An especially rigorous analysis of personal bankruptcies by Daniel Austin, a law professor at Northeastern University, concluded that “medical bills are the single largest cause of consumer bankruptcy.” Austin placed the percentage of medical bankruptcies at 18 to 25 percent of all personal bankruptcies nationwide.
– It is clear why the number of medical bankruptcies would be high before the ACA was enacted. Before the ACA, insurance plans both in the individual and employer-sponsored markets routinely placed annual and lifetime limits on benefits. In addition, people in the individual market with pre-existing conditions often found it impossible to find any
– A Consumer Reports analysis documents how the ACA’s new consumer protections and expansion of coverage has led to a dramatic drop in bankruptcies.. Jim Molleur, a Maine bankruptcy attorney, told Consumers Report, “We’re not getting people with big medical bills, chronically sick people who would hit those lifetime caps or be denied because of pre-existing conditions. They seemed to disappear almost overnight once ACA kicked in.”

Under the ACA, Health Care Costs Have Risen at the Slowest Rate in 50 Years

– In the decade before the ACA was enacted, health care costs were growing every year at double-digit rates. By contrast, since the ACA became law, health care costs have risen at the slowest rate in 50 years. The Affordable Care Act’s reforms to Medicare payment rates, along with “spillover” effects on prices in the private sector, have been major contributors to this recent slow cost growth.
– Slower health care cost growth has meant savings for millions of American families. 177 million Americans have employer-based health coverage. The average premium for job-based family coverage was $3,600 lower in 2016 than if premium growth since 2010 had matched the pre-ACA decade. In the decade before the ACA, the worker portion of the premium for job-based coverage increased at an average rate of 7.2 percent a year; by contrast, since 2010, it has increased at 3.1 percent – less than half the previous rate.
– Slower health care cost growth also has meant savings for seniors. Since 2010, the growth in per enrollee Medicare spending has been significantly below earlier years. Per enrollee Medicare spending grew at an average annual rate of 4.7 percent from 2000 to 2005 and 2.4 percent from 2005 to 2010, and yet from 2010 to 2015 it actually went down by 0.3 percent. The premiums and cost-sharing that Medicare beneficiaries pay depend directly on underlying Medicare costs. As a result, the typical Medicare enrollee enrolled in traditional Medicare paid $700 less in premiums and out-of-pocket costs in 2016 than if earlier Medicare cost trends had continued.

Under the ACA, Americans Have Improved Access to Care and Financial Security

– Recent research has shown that the expansion of coverage under the ACA has resulted in improved access to care. A key measure of individuals’ ability to access care is the share of people reporting that they failed to obtain needed medical care due to cost during the last 12 months. Since 2010, the share of individuals reporting these types of affordability problems has declined by more than a third.
– Recent research also shows that states seeing large declines in their uninsured rates have seen large increases in the share of people reporting they have a personal doctor and reporting that they have had a checkup in the last 12 months.
– Recent research has also shown that the expansion of coverage under the ACA has led to improved health. For example, it has found that the share of non-elderly adults reporting they are in only fair or poor health has fallen as coverage has expanded, as has the percentage of days that respondents report having their activities limited by health problems. Research has also found evidence that gains in self-reported health status have been larger in states that have expanded Medicaid.
– Finally, recent research has shown that the expansion of coverage under the ACA has resulted in improved financial security. For example, it has found that the share of families reporting problems paying medical bills has fallen substantially since 2013, with particularly large reductions for low- and moderate-income adults. Similarly, research using consumer credit reports to compare states that have and have not expanded Medicaid found similar improvements in financial security, including reductions in the amount of debt sent to a collection agency and improvements in credit scores.

(Supporting documentation can be found via links here.)


  4 comments for “Fighting Back: – Sen. Hirono on the Senate ‘Healthcare’ Bill: “In Hawaii we call this kind of flimflammery ‘shibai’.”

  1. JanF
    July 8, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    From House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi:

    Dear Democratic Colleague,

    As we continue the fight to Protect Our Care, thank you for your leadership and for being active during this work period. Republicans continue to struggle in their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. As always, we extend the hand of friendship and are ready to work with Republicans to improve and update the ACA.

    Right now, it is essential that the Administration recognize that the ACA is the law of the land, and that includes ensuring that Cost Sharing Reduction payments continue. The Administration’s lack of clarity over continuing these payments has led to uncertainty in the insurance marketplaces and thus higher premiums for consumers in 2018.

    In addition to the health of the American people, the health of our economy has been well-served by the ACA. Enclosed is a report on the economic benefits of the ACA, compiled by my office working with many of the outside advocates and groups engaged in the fight to Protect Our Care. It details how the ACA has created jobs, slowed the growth of health care costs and even reduced medical bankruptcies. I hope this information is helpful to you.

    In this 4th of July week, let us remember our Founders’ commitment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as we fight to Protect Our Care!

  2. JanF
    July 8, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    From Nancy Pelosi’s newsroom – Trumpcare: The Most Unpopular Bill in Three Decades

    Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, the Senate version of Trumpcare – supported by only 12% of Americans – is officially the most unpopular bill in three decades.

    Axios: The most unpopular bill in three decades

    The Republican health care effort is the most unpopular legislation in three decades — less popular than the Affordable Care Act when it was passed … It’s rare for Congress to move ahead with legislation when the signs are this clear that the public doesn’t want it.

    It’s no surprise the bill is so unpopular – Trumpcare is nothing but a billionaire’s tax cut on the backs of everyone else.

    AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: The bill is not only “a vicious assault on Americans’ health care security,” but it’s also “a massive transfer of wealth from workers to Wall Street.”

    Trumpcare means:

    – Higher Costs – Trumpcare forces families to pay much higher out-of-pocket health care costs, including deductibles.
    – Less Coverage – Trumpcare will take away health care from 22 million hard-working Americans.
    – Key Protections Gutted – Trumpcare would gut Essential Health Benefits, meaning soaring costs for Americans with pre-existing conditions and reinstating the dreaded lifetime and annual limits on care.
    – A Crushing Age Tax – Trumpcare forces Americans aged 50-64 to pay premiums five times higher than what others pay for health coverage, no matter how healthy they are.
    – Steals from Medicare – Trumpcare shortens the life of the Medicare Trust Fund and ransacks funds that seniors depend on to get the long-term care they need, all to give tax cuts to the wealthy.

    It’s time for Republicans in Congress to abandon their cruel and misguided plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and work with Democrats to lower health care costs for everyone, everywhere in America.

  3. JanF
    July 8, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Senator Diane Feinstein D-CA: Senate Democrats ‘very close’ to defeating Republican health care bill

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein issued a stinging rebuke Friday to the push by congressional Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare, condemning her GOP colleagues for advancing a health care bill she said was written in private “by 13 white men.”

    “Understand that this is real, that it’s happening now, and that we must stop it,” Feinstein said at a news conference at the University of California, San Francisco, Benioff Children’s Hospital. “It must be defeated.”

    The proposal would strip 22 million Americans of health coverage by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. […]

    Feinstein criticized senators for political maneuvering, and called on opponents to urge Senate Republicans to vote against the bill.

    “What the Republicans have done, essentially, is said, ‘OK, we’ll pass the bill now, but these cuts won’t go into effect for a couple of years.’ So it’s a little tricky — you get past the next election without a cut,” she said. “There is no Democrat in the United States Senate that will vote for this bill – it will be 51 Republicans or nothing.” […]

    By 2037, California would lose $114 billion in federal funding for Medi-Cal under the Senate GOP bill.

  4. bfitzinAR
    July 9, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    Thanks, jan – really appreciate the work you do on this. I copied the Senators address above into the Village diary at DK. Which is the only place I can think of where appreciation and respect for Dem Senators is a given at DK. sigh.

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