The Americans Who Saved Health Insurance


As Congress regrouped last week to move a short-term healthcare agenda forward to shore up health insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act, there was a great article in the The New York Times about the activists around the country who stood up and made their voices heard. Of particular interest, were the many organized millennials who spoke out against the proposed bill, such as the group Indivisible, who as 20-something and young 30-somethings are making an impact on the political scene for the first time. We also are proud to share the writings of our client L.A. Care and CEO John Baackes, including his involvement in an open letter to Congress that was signed jointly by several managed healthcare organization leaders. Here’s an excerpt:

There are no hidden efficiencies that states can use to address gaps of this magnitude without harming beneficiaries or imposing undue burden to our health care system and all U.S. taxpayers. Reducing the federal government’s share of Medicaid in this manner is not meaningful reform to bend the cost curve. It is simply an enormous cost shift to the states. It does nothing to address underlying drivers of the cost of care, like expensive new drugs and therapies, and an aging population living longer with disability. States are already hard-pressed to meet these challenges while balancing their budgets.

However, the preventive care, disease, injury, and trauma care needs of the 74 million Americans who currently rely on Medicaid are agnostic to federal payment models—and they will not go away if coverage is not available. Without coverage, these consumers will delay care until they are sicker and seek care in emergency departments, thus costing the federal government even more to treat. Care must be provided, and uncompensated care through greater emergency department use will handicap the health care system for all Americans—including leading to increased costs for employers and those with commercial insurance.

View the full letter here

From the The New York Times, Op-Ed columnist David Leonhardt wrote:

At an Austin, Tex., bar during Thanksgiving week, three friends got together to talk about stopping Trump’s agenda. The friends — Sara Clough along with Leah Greenberg and Ezra Levin, a married couple who had both worked in Congress — envisioned a Google document with tips for citizen action. Others were involved, too, and the document began circulating online. It led to the formation of Indivisible, with chapters around the country trying to replicate the Tea Party’s success, albeit to different ends.

The various groups and organizers fed off one another. Health care wonks like Andy Slavitt (who had run Medicare and Medicaid) and Topher Spiro used Twitter to explain what Congress was doing — and urge action. The hosts of a hit podcast, Pod Save America, implored their audience to stay engaged. AARP ran ads and mobilized members. It was a vast health care conspiracy.

I’ve never seen a major political fight inspire such an expert consensus, across the ideological spectrum. Groups representing doctors, nurses, hospitals and patients of virtually every disease criticized these bills. So did both liberal and conservative policy experts. Congressional Budget Office analysts refused to be bullied and provided dispassionate, and devastating, analyses.

Read the full article here