Biden Reopens Federal Health Insurance Marketplace

Joe Biden first super bowl interview

President Joe Biden announced he would reopen the federal health insurance marketplace for three months, emphasizing the importance of ensuring more Americans have access to health care as the nation continues to contend with the realities of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Starting today and running through May 15, 2021, we are opening for all Americans to have the opportunity to sign up for health insurance,” Biden said.

Biden also tied the special enrollment period to his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, which he says “will ramp up testing, tracing, and our national vaccination program,” as well as “take big steps to lower health costs and expand access to care for all Americans, including those who have lost their jobs.”

The website has already been updated with information to answer any questions people might have about the special enrollment period.

Biden had last month signed an executive order reopening the marketplace.

People who lost their jobs and health insurance months ago can sign up for new coverage during the special enrollment period. People who have already enrolled in a marketplace plan have the option to switch their coverage. People will be directed to their state’s

Medicaid program for coverage if their annual income is below the Medicaid threshold. read more

Opinion: The Possibilities for Biden’s Vision to Overcome Trump’s Division

President-elect Joe Biden campaigned aspirationally on a vision of uniting a country many see as severely, if not hopelessly, divided. After all, while Biden amassed over 80 million votes, the most votes ever tallied by any candidate in a presidential election in U.S. history, Trump hauled in the second-most votes ever, finding the support of over 70 million American voters. read more

10 Years After Passing Affordable Care Act, Obama Says It’s ‘Progress Worth Protecting’ Against Republican Attempts To End It

In conjunction with a political organization called “Protect Our Care,” which seeks to provide “outreach, rapid response, research and messaging center in the fight to protect health care,” former President Barack Obama released a video in which he celebrated and touted the reforms passed in the Affordable Care Act.

The ACA, commonly called Obamacare by critics and supporters alike, passed Congress and was signed into law 10 years ago on March23.

“It’s been 10 years since we passed the Affordable Care Act. With your help, it’s the closest we’ve ever come to universal coverage in America,” Obama said in the video.

The former president touted the law for helping millions of Americans, noting how people are “alive today” who might not have been had it not been for the act’s passage.

The ACA, according to Obama in the video message, helped to protect 135 million people in the United States from being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. It also helped young people stay on their parents coverage plans longer, helped seniors with affording prescription medicines, and worked to ensure women weren’t charged more “just because they’re women,” Obama said.

In spite of all the positives that the law has produced, however, Obama warned that Republican lawmakers were still trying to dismantle his signature legislative accomplishment. The 2018 midterm elections were a rebuke to those efforts, he said.

“But even with a House of Representatives committed to building on the Affordable Care Act, Republicans will keep trying, both in Congress and in the courts, to rip away the care that millions of Americans rely on, and to raise costs for millions more,” Obama added. read more

Nearly 60 Percent of Voters Don’t Trust Trump on Healthcare

A large majority of American voters say they don’t trust Donald Trump on health care, according to the new Politico/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday.

The poll discovered that 59 percent of voters said they don’t have “much trust” or “any trust at all” in the president on health care.

The new poll also discovered that more voters support the Affordable Care Act (the ACA, or Obamacare) than do not support it. Nearly half of respondents, 47 percent, said they approve of the law, compared to just 41 percent who said they do not approve.

In addition, 45 percent of voters said they trust Democrats more than Republicans in Congress on healthcare. Just 35 percent of respondents said they have more trust in Republicans.

Tyler Sinclair, Morning Consult’s vice president, pointed out the problem for the president facing reelection:

“As health care is pushed to the forefront of the 2020 agenda, our polling suggests President Trump may struggle to attract voters with his promise of a new plan.”

Today’s poll results come after the Trump administration last week called for the entirety of the Affordable Care Act to be be struck down by a federal court in Texas.

After that Trump made a controversial pledge that Republicans would become the “party of health care.”

He also said that the GOP would come up with a “far better” health care proposal than Obamacare.

Since last week’s court filing, Trump has backtracked on healthcare, saying that Republicans wouldn’t take up healthcare reform until after the 2020 election. In his comments he was assuming that Republicans would win back House control and he would also win reelection.

The federal lawsuit is continuing, however, and healthcare will be on voters’ minds during the 2020 election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he told Trump earlier this week that the Senate would not work on a comprehensive health care package ahead of the 2020 election.

“I made clear to him that we were not going to be doing that in the Senate,” McConnell said he told the president. “He did say, as he later tweeted, that he accepted that and he would be developing a plan that he would take to the American people during the 2020 campaign.”

Trump and the GOP Can’t Fool American Voters read more

Democrats welcome fight as Trump tees up 2020 healthcare battle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats on Tuesday embraced U.S. President Donald Trump’s call to revive a fight over healthcare coverage, ensuring the issue will dominate the 2020 presidential election and Trump’s bid for a second term in office.

Trump last week stepped up his assault on Democratic predecessor President Barack Obama’s signature 2010 healthcare law by directing the Justice Department to oppose it in court and promising an unspecified Republican alternative.

In a series of late-night posts on Twitter on Monday, however, Trump shifted course, saying there would be no vote on any healthcare legislation until after next year’s election.

Republicans are developing “a really great HealthCare Plan with far lower premiums (cost) & deductibles than Obamacare,” Trump said, referring to the Affordable Care Act signed into law by Obama.

“Vote will be taken right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate & win back the House,” he said.

While that timeline would give Republicans more time to knit together an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, it all but guarantees a 2020 battle over an issue that helped Democrats wrest control of the U.S. House of Representatives last year.

“When the president has instructed his Department of Justice to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, them’s fighting words,” U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in an interview with Politico on Tuesday.

Trump and his fellow Republicans had vowed in the 2016 presidential election to “repeal and replace” Obamacare but failed to do so during their first two years in power, despite control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Democrats made healthcare a signature issue in the 2018 midterm congressional election, and are gearing up for a repeat defense next year.

“Healthcare will be front and center,” Democratic U.S. Representative Ben Ray Lujan told MSNBC on Tuesday.

Lujan, who is seeking a Senate seat in 2020, cited popular aspects of the law, such as protections for pre-existing conditions that could be threatened by Republicans, and said Democrats’ protection of the law could help them also win control of the upper chamber.

Candidates for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination, including a number of current U.S. senators, have also hinged their candidacy on the issue.

Later on Tuesday, the Democratic-led House plans to take up a resolution condemning the Justice Department’s legal assault on the law. Democrats from both chambers also rallied against it in front of the Supreme Court.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Trump Suffers Huge Losses in Court on Healthcare Rules

Donald Trump keeps trying to undo the nation’s healthcare protections, and he keeps losing in court.

The latest loss came when a federal judge struck down a Trump administration rule aimed at enabling millions of Americans to buy cheap health insurance plans that do not comply with key Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) requirements. The rule was part of Trump’s efforts to chip away at the healthcare law after he could not get Congress to repeal it.

The judge said that Trump’s attempt to make cheap health insurance plans available that avoid the requirements of Obamacare was illegal.

It was the second loss in court for Trump in as many days.

The day before, another U.S. District Judge blocked the administration’s plans for Medicaid recipients in Kentucky and Arkansas to be subject to work requirements in exchange for health benefits.

The newest ruling, came from U.S. District Judge John D. Bates of the District of Columbia, who expressed his contempt for what Trump was trying to do.

“The final rule is clearly an end-run around the Affordable Care Act,” Bates, an appointee of President George W. Bush, wrote in the ruling, before adding:

“Indeed, as the president directed, and the secretary of labor confirmed, the final rule was designed to expand access to cheap, noncompliant association plans to avoid the most stringent requirements of the Affordable Care Act.” read more

Democrats pounce as Trump administration ratchets up attack on Obamacare

By Amanda Becker

(Reuters) – Top congressional Democrats on Tuesday attacked a legal move by the Trump administration to step up its assault on the Obamacare healthcare law, saying last November’s elections showed Americans want them to protect the Affordable Care Act.

The Justice Department, in a two-sentence letter to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals filed on Monday, said it backed a federal judge’s ruling in December that the Affordable Care Act violated the U.S. Constitution because it required people to buy health insurance.

The letter said the Justice Department would file a more extensive legal briefing later.

Democrats said the move to overturn Obamacare would overshadow Republican President Donald Trump’s claim of victory following the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The legal filing gave Democrats a natural opening to focus on an issue they say is more important to voters than the Mueller investigation.

“We always felt that the issues that affect average Americans – healthcare, climate change, jobs – (are) far more important to them, and to us, than what happens in an investigation,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters.

Democrats made defending Obamacare a powerful messaging tool in the run-up to the November’s elections, when opinion polls showed eight in 10 Americans wanted to defend its most popular benefits, including protections for insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. The strategy paid off, and Democrats won a 38-seat majority in the House of Representatives.

The 2010 healthcare law, seen as the signature domestic achievement of Trump’s Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, has been a flashpoint of American politics since its passage, with Republicans, including Trump, repeatedly attempting to overturn it.

Previously, the Trump administration had said portions of Obamacare should be struck down and others should survive, including a state-led expansion of Medicaid health insurance for the poor. Trump had said he would not cut that aspect when campaigning for the White House, although his 2020 budget proposal slashed the program’s funding.

“The Republican Party will soon be known as the party of healthcare – you watch,” Trump told reporters upon arriving at U.S. Capitol on Thursday for lunch with Republican lawmakers. He offered no details.

One of the first moves Democrats made after regaining control of the House was intervening in the Texas lawsuit to rebut the claim brought by a coalition of 20 Republican-led states. Texas, Alabama, Florida and the 17 other states had said a Trump-backed change to the U.S. tax code made Obamacare unconstitutional.

“Americans raised their hand and said, ‘We want the Affordable Care Act protected, therefore we’re going to vote for the party that says it will protect and preserve and, yes, even expand the Affordable Care Act,'” Representative Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, said at a Tuesday news conference.

Obamacare survived a 2012 legal challenge at the Supreme Court when a majority of justices ruled the individual mandate aspect of the program, which requires individuals to buy insurance or pay a penalty, was a tax that Congress had the authority to impose.

In December, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that after Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax cut package passed by Congress last year that eliminated the penalties, the individual mandate could no longer be considered constitutional.

“The taxing authority by Congress that led to the legitimate reason for Obamacare being upheld is gone,” White House aide Kellyanne Conway told reporters on Tuesday. “We now have a mandate without a penalty.”

Conway said Obamacare had not been a “magic elixir” since more than 27.4 million non-elderly individuals in the United States were without health insurance in 2017, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

A group of 17 mostly Democratic-led states including California and New York on Monday argued in court papers that the law was constitutional because the individual mandate is a “lawful choice between buying insurance or doing nothing.”

About 11.8 million consumers nationwide enrolled in 2018 Obamacare exchange plans, according to the U.S. government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

(Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston and Amanda Becker and Alexandra Alper in Washington; additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Bill Trott and Jonathan Oatis)

Trump Has Done the Impossible: He Has  United Democrats

Donald Trump has just accomplished an extremely difficult task. Over the past few days he has made moves that have united the Democratic Party.

Every single Democrat in Congress was outraged that Trump had his hand-picked attorney general write a brief summary of Bob Mueller’s 22 month investigation that allowed the president to claim “complete exoneration.”

And every single Democrat in Congress was shocked when they found out that Trump is now trying to completely destroy the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Democrats had been struggling to find unity, but now they are completely united as they try to move past the Russia investigation and position themselves to win the White House and take control of Congress in 2020.

After Trump’s Department of Justice (DOJ) asked a federal appeals court to strike down Obamacare, the president claimed that the GOP was the “party of health care.” But what voters remember is how the GOP tried to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a much inferior program.

Latest reports from Washington this morning indicate that Democrats are happy yet confused about Trump’s efforts to make healthcare a prime GOP talking point as they head into next year’s election.

His moves might help Trump rally his conservative base but according to the Associated Press (AP) “ the push also poured political kerosene on an issue that many Democrats credit with powering their midterm election victories in November.”

Voters Care About Healthcare More Than Any Other Issue

All the Democrats in Congress, along with those running for president, are saying that voters don’t care about the Mueller investigation very much but are passionate about health care.

In short, it is an issue that resonates with voters more than any other.

“This is something that Americans care deeply about,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a 2020 candidate. “I may not have been asked about the Mueller report at town hall meetings, but I was sure asked about health care.”

The AP reporting shows that Democrats are thrilled to shift the discussion in Washington from Mueller to health care.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris of California has already

turned Trump’s new attack on Obamacare into a powerful election issue. read more

Bill Barr Moves to Destroy ObamaCare and the Republican Party

William Barr’s latest move as Trump’s attorney general is intended to destroy the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) but also may destroy the GOP.

Last December a federal district court judge issued a ruling saying the Obamacare individual mandate is now unconstitutional because of a provision of the 2017 GOP tax scam law. At the time we reported that the decision could give Democrats control of the Senate in 2020.

And now Barr’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a motion supporting the district court opinion and calling for ObamaCare to be struck down in its entirety.

By siding with the federal district court that had ruled the individual mandate is unconstitutional the DOJ has taken a new position that will create new controversies and uncertainties in America’s healthcare system. It will also be very unpopular.

Previously the DOJ was focused on eliminating mandatory coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, a position that helped give Democrats control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections.

But now, under Barr, the federal government’s position has changed for the worse.

In a letter, shown below, to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals the DOJ states it “has determined that the district court’s judgement should be affirmed,” meaning it will not appeal the judge’s ruling declaring the individual mandate unconstitutional.

The DOJ’s letter in the affordable care act case in the Fifth Circuit.

The Justice Department is apparently all in on defending Judge O’Connor’s (deeply problematic) ruling invalidating the _entire_ Affordable Care Act.

So much for DOJ’s obligation to defend the constitutionality of federal statutes when reasonable grounds exist for doing so… read more

How the Obamacare Ruling Could Give Democrats the Senate in 2020

A Texas judge’s decision to strike down Obamacare as unconstitutional was, according to Daily Kos, “a lawless act of partisan idiocy.” The ridiculous opinion will undoubtedly be reversed upon appeal. In the meantime the mere prospect of overturning the popular healthcare law, and taking health insurance away from 20 million people, is hurting the Republican Party.

For Democrats this decision could be the gift that keeps on giving. As Bloomberg reported, the case will stretch into 2020, and probably beyond, due to appeals. Which means that in the 2020 presidential and congressional elections healthcare will again be the most important issue. In fact providing affordable healthcare to all Americans may be the defining issue of the entire election season in 2020.

And it could be the issue that swings not only the presidency but also control of the U.S. Senate to the Democratic Party. Needless to say, the conservative judge’s opinion is going to cause a LOT of trouble for the Republican Party

Every election observer pointed out that healthcare was the top issue in 2018. Voters overwhelmingly supported Democratic candidates on the issue of healthcare. It played a key role in helping them take back the House.

And in three RED states a majority of voters said they wanted to not only keep Obamacare but expand Medicaid.

In red-state Nebraska voters enacted Medicaid expansion via ballot initiative despite years of the GOP-controlled state legislature’s refusal to do so. Once implemented, an additional 90,000 people in Nebraska will have healthcare. That’s not a benefit they’re going to want to give up.

Republican two-faced Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska is up for re-election in 2020, and now finds himself in

a dangerous political situation. read more

Judge Rules Obamacare Unconstitutional Because of GOP Tax Bill

A federal judge in Texas said on Friday that the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual coverage mandate is unconstitutional and that the rest of the law therefore is not valid. The ruling was based on law changes made in the 2017 Republican tax bill.

Experts said the ruling will not affect Americans’ current health coverage, and a group of states led by California is already planning to appeal. But the court ruling invalidating the health care law, also known as Obamacare, casts a shadow over the future of health insurance coverage for millions of Americans.

The ruling and expected appeal casts more doubt on the fate of the law, which Republicans have unsuccessfully tried to repeal for years. It is very likely that the judge’s ruling will ultimately be reviewed by the United States Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote which left Obamacare intact in 2012, but this new court ruling may be viewed differently. It centers on changes to the individual mandate that were passed into law in the 2017 tax reform legislation.

Donald Trump, like most Republicans, campaigned in 2016 on a promise to undo Obamacare. Their efforts were unsuccessful as the repeal bill was defeated in the Senate by a vote from the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain.

Trump immediately tweeted in celebration on Friday and called on Congress to act. He wrote:

“As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster! Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions. Mitch and Nancy, get it done!” read more