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Chuck Schumer’s Blame Game On The Rising Costs Of Health Care

- June 6, 2018

IGNORING YEARS OF BROKEN PROMISES AND SKYROCKETING HEALTHCARE COSTS, CHUCK SCHUMER AND DEMOCRATS ARE NOW SUDDENLY BLAMING REPUBLICANS FOR THE FAILURES OF OBAMACARE

Today, Senator Chuck Schumer Sent A Letter To Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell In An Effort To Influence The Senate To Focus Its Efforts On Health Care Legislation

On June 6, 2018, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Announced That The August Recess Was "Canceled" And That Senators Would Remain In Session To Pass Legislation And Work On Making Progress On President Trump's Nominees. "'The August recess has been canceled. Senators should expect to remain in session in August to pass legislation, including appropriations bills, and to make additional progress on the president's nominees,' McConnell said." (Burgess Everett and Elana Schor, "McConnell Cancels Most Of August Recess," Politico , 6/5/18)

Today, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Sent A Letter To McConnell Stating That During August The Senate Should Consider Legislation Aimed At "Lower[ing] The Cost Of Health Care And Prescription Drugs." "Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a letter to McConnell released Wednesday that the GOP leader should dedicate August to 'considering legislation that would lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs.'" (Jessie Hellmann, "Schumer Presses McConnell To Dedicate August To Bringing Down-Health Care Costs," The Hill , 6/6/18)

  • In The Letter, Schumer Highlighted The Democratic-Sponsored Bills He Wished To Be Focused On, These Bills Would Expand Obamacare's Tax Credits And Focus On Expanding Access To Medicare Before Age 65. "Schumer also highlighted Democratic-sponsored bills that would expand ObamaCare's tax credits, allow Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies and allow more people to access Medicare before they reach age 65." (Jessie Hellmann, "Schumer Presses Mcconnell To Dedicate August To Bringing Down-Health Care Costs," The Hill , 6/6/18)

Democrats Sold Obamacare To The American Public As A Cure-All That Would "Lower Costs" And "Provide More Affordable Coverage For Millions Of Uninsured Americans"

Former President Barack Obama Claimed Obamacare Would "Bend The Cost Curve And Start Actually Reducing Health Care Costs." PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: "And everybody who's looked at it says that every single good idea to bend the cost curve and start actually reducing health care costs are in this bill." (President Barack Obama, Remarks To House Democrats , Washington D.C., 3/20/10)

In 2010, Senator Schumer Claimed That Obamacare Would Be The First "Major Step" In Managing The "Costs That Are Out Of Control." SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): "You bet. And that's why it's been crafted the way it is, to be realistic. But some of the cost-cutting will go into effect right away. Everyone knows the waste, the fraud, the abuse, the duplication in the system. The answer on the other side is do nothing, repeal it. We have to get a handle on costs. And for me, at least, the number one rationale for this bill--I think it's important to cover people--but the most important thing to do is get a handle on the costs that are out of control, that are killing business, killing individuals, and killing our federal deficit. Does this do everything in that regard? No. Is it the first major step to do it in a very large way? You bet." (NBC's Meet The Press , 3/28/10)

House Minority Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Once Claimed That Obamacare Was "Bringing The Cost Of Health Care In Our Country Down." REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): "Many of the initiatives that he passed are what are coming to bear now, including the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act is bringing the cost of health care in our country down in both the public and private sector." (Becky Bowers, "Nancy Pelosi Says Obamacare Is Bringing Down Health Care Costs," Politifact , 5/16/13)

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Claimed Obamacare Would "Reduce Long-Term Costs, Lower The Deficit And Reduce Long Term-Spending." SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI): "In fact, one of the biggest ways we will save money is by focusing on keeping people healthy, focusing on ways that we change a system so we are not paying for individual procedures, but paying for those things the doctor needs to do and wants to do in total to help you recover from an operation or have the treatment you need. We are going to, importantly, reduce long-term costs, lower the deficit and reduce long-term spending." (Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Congressional Record , 11/19/09, p. S11587)

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) Claimed Obamacare Would "Lower Costs And Extend Coverage To All." SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN (D-WI): "Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this bill, which will provide affordable health coverage to 36 million people who lack it today…Today, we convene to debate and advance legislation that delivers meaningful insurance reform, outlawing outrageous insurance abuses, lowering costs, and extending coverage to all. I will cast my vote today on behalf of the people in Wisconsin and millions throughout America who have said enough is enough. Today, we declare with conviction: every American deserves health care, and every American shall have it." (Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Congressional Record , 11/07/09, p. H12843)

Senator Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA) Claimed Obamacare Would "Lower Costs" And "Control Long-Term Health Care." SEN. BOB CASEY JR (D-PA): "We are going to make the changes and institute reforms that will lead to lower costs, better health care outcomes, and a better bottom line for small businesses and, therefore, control long-term health care costs and long-term national debt. All of that comes from a good health care bill in the end." (Sen. Bob Casey Jr., Congressional Record , 11/4/09, p.S11113)

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) Claimed The Passage Of Obamacare Would "Lower Costs For Middle Class Families With Insurance" And That Seniors On Medicare Will See "Prescription Drug Costs Cut In Half." "'This bill will lower costs for middle class families with insurance, while providing help to 31 million Americans who lack it… Seniors on Medicare will see their prescription drug costs cut in half and, for the first time, will have access to free annual check-ups and screenings." (Press Release, "Sen. Brown Statement On Senate Passage Of Health Reform Legislation," Sen. Sherrod Brown , 12/24/09)

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) Believed Obamacare Would Make "Health Coverage More Affordable" And That This Bill Specifically Would "Provide More Affordable Coverage For Millions Of Uninsured Americans." "'In voting to move a health-care bill forward, my main goal was to help pass legislation that'll make health coverage more affordable and available for everybody… And when it comes to health care reform, we can't afford to sit by and do nothing anymore. I firmly believe this legislation will provide more affordable coverage for millions of uninsured Americans, prevent insurance companies from dropping folks who get sick and stop them from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.'" (Press Release, "Sen. Bill Nelson's Statement On Health-Care Vote," Sen. Bill Nelson , 12/21/09)

Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) He Voted In Favor Of Obamacare Because It Would "Make Insurance Affordable For All Americans." "'This morning I voted to keep the government out of our health care decisions while making insurance affordable for all Americans."(Press Release, "Tester Statement On Passage Of Health Care Reform Bill," Sen. Jon Tester , 12/24/09)

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) Declared That Obamacare Would "Mak[e] Insurance More Affordable." "McCaskill said the bill is not perfect but will 'vastly improve the current realities of health care in our country' by stabilizing health care costs, making insurance more affordable and available to most Americans and by reducing the deficit over 20 years." ("State's Senators, Candidates Follow Party Lines On Health Care Bill," Springfield News-Leader, 12/24/09)

Health Insurance Premiums Have Been On The Rise Long Before Trump Became President

In 2013, Healthcare Premiums Were On The Rise As Premiums Were Expected To Increase 6 Percent, Up From A 3.2 Percent Increase The Previous Year. "Improved coverage for those who currently have individually purchased insurance is also expected to influence higher spending growth. On a per enrollee basis, growth in private health insurance premiums is expected to accelerate to 6.0 percent, up from 3.2 percent in 2013." (Sean P. Keehan et. al, "National Health Expenditure Projections, 2012-22: Slow Growth Until Coverage Expands And Economy Improves," Health Affairs , no. (2013)

  • By 2015, Signs Began To Emerge Showing that Obamacare Could Cause Double-Digit Rate Hikes. "The Obama administration's effort to end one political crisis during the 2014 Obamacare rollout may have sown the seeds of another controversy: potential double-digit rate hikes in 2015." (Brett Norman, "Solving A 2014 ObamaCare Problem Pushes Premium Hikes In 2015," Politico , 8/13/14)
  • By 2017, "Premiums For A Popular And Significant Group Of Health Plans Sold Through Healthcare.Gov [Grew] By An Average Of 25 Percent." "Insurers are raising the 2017 premiums for a popular and significant group of health plans sold through HealthCare.gov by an average of 25 percent, more than triple the percentage increase of this year's plans, according to new government figures." (Amy Goldstein, "Average Premiums For Popular ACA Plans Rising 25 Percent," The Washington Post , 10/24/16)
  • By 2018, Average Benchmark Premiums For A 27-Year-Old Increased By 37 Percent From 2017. "Benchmark Premiums: The average monthly premium for the second-lowest cost silver plan (SLCSP), also called the benchmark plan, for a 27-year-old increased by 37% from plan year 2017 (PY17) ($300) to PY18 ($411)." ("Health Plan Choice And Premiums In The 2018 Federal Health Insurance Exchange," Department Of Health And Human Services , 10/30/17)

Overall, The Average Monthly Premiums For The Lowest Cost Plan For A 27-Year-Old In A HealthCare.gov State Rose By 17 Percent From 2017 And 77 Percent Since 2014 . ("Health Plan Choice And Premiums In The 2018 Federal Health Insurance Exchange," Department Of Health And Human Services , 10/30/17, p. 26)

Despite The Fact That Obamacare's Premium Rates Have Been Increasing For Years, Democrats Are Now Trying To Blame Republicans For The Increases

Democrats Are Blaming Obamacare Premium Increases On The Trump Administration. "The party is blaming proposed hikes of up to 50 percent for some 2018 Obamacare plans on the Trump administration's efforts to create uncertainty in the individual market, which includes Obamacare's exchanges. However, some insurance plans have noted other factors in the proposed increases, including Obamacare's insurer tax." (Robert King, "Democrats Go On Offense On Obamacare Rate Hikes," Washington Examiner , 5/19/17)

Senator Schumer Claimed Democrats Would Be "Relentless" In Making Sure Americans Understand "Who Is To Blame For The [Increasing] Rates," And Claimed That "It's On Their [Republicans] Back And They Know It." "'We Democrats are going to be relentless in making sure the American people exactly understand who is to blame for the rates,' Schumer said at a press conference to highlight the rate increases. 'Republicans control the House, the Senate, the presidency,' he added. 'The rates go up, especially after all their actions, it's on their back and they know it.'" (Peter Sullivan, "Schumer: Dems Will Be 'Relentless' In Attacking GOP For Premium Hikes," The Hill , 5/8/18)

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Tried To Argue That Republicans Would Be Responsible For Any Future Large Premium Increases. "Less than an hour earlier, Pelosi said: 'They must take repeal off the table, and they must stop sabotaging the Affordable Care Act.' … Pelosi said individual health plan premiums and deductibles could increase dramatically, by 35 percent to 40 percent above current levels, if the Republicans did two things to 'sabotage' Obamacare." (Dan Mangan, "Pelosi Warns GOP Against 'Sabotaging' Obamacare, As House Speaker Ryan Vows To Press Repeal," CNBC , 3/30/17)

Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) Argued That Trump's Deregulation Efforts Would Cause Obamacare Costs To Increase For Everyone. "Van Hollen pointed to some insurers citing uncertainty over the law's individual mandate requiring everyone to buy insurance and Trump's executive order that called for the government to relax enforcement of the mandate's penalties. 'Failure to enforce the individual mandate makes it far more likely that healthier, younger individuals will drop coverage and drive up the cost for everyone,' said Chet Burrell, CEO of CareFirst, in Bloomberg News." (Robert King, "Democrats Go On Offense On Obamacare Rate Hikes," Washington Examiner , 5/19/17)

Senator Chris Murphy, (D-CT) Claimed That An "Enormous Percentage Of Rate Increases" Were The Trump Administration's Fault. "Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., conceded there are some other factors for rate hikes. 'There is no doubt that a component of rate increases is going to be due to underlying healthcare costs,' he said. 'But this enormous percentage of rate increases due to the Trump administration is a self-inflicted wound.'" (Robert King, "Democrats Go On Offense On Obamacare Rate Hikes," Washington Examiner , 5/19/17)

Since Obamacare Was Enacted, The Cost Of Prescription Drugs Has Skyrocketed, Costing Taxpayers Dearly

Expenditures On Prescription Drugs Have Risen Faster Than Overall Health Spending. "Expenditures on prescription drugs are rising and are projected to continue to rise faster than overall health spending thereby increasing this sector's share of health care spending." ("Observations On Trends In Prescription Drug Spending," The U.S. Department Of Health And Human Services , 3/8/16)

  • Expenditures On Specialty Drugs Have Risen Even "More Rapidly" Than Expenditures On Other Drugs. "Expenditures on specialty drugs generally appear to be rising more rapidly than expenditures on other drugs, though estimates of specialty drug expenditures are highly sensitive to which drugs are considered 'specialty' products." ("Observations On Trends In Prescription Drug Spending," The U.S. Department Of Health And Human Services , 3/8/16)

CBS News: Drug Prices Continue To Rise Faster Than Either Wages Or The Cost Of Living, Putting A Crimp In Many Household Budgets. "Drug prices continue to rise faster than either wages or the cost of living, putting a crimp in many household budgets." (Aimee Picchi, "Prognosis For Rx In 2017: More Painful Drug-Price Hikes," CBS News , 12/31/16)

According To Express Scripts Prescription Price Index, The Average Price For Most Commonly Used Brand-Name Drugs Has Increased Since 2008. "According to the Express Scripts Prescription Price Index, the average price for the most commonly used brand-name drugs has increased since 2008, whereas generic drug prices have declined." ("2016 Drug Trend Report," Express Scripts , Accessed 6/6/18, p.31)

  • According To This Report, Brand-Name Prescription Drugs Have Increased In Price By 208 Percent From 2008 Until 2016. ("2016 Drug Trend Report," Express Scripts , Accessed 6/6/18, p.31)

The Trump Administration Has Approved A Record Number Of Drugs To Increase Competition In The Marketplace And Promulgated New Regulations Which Aim To Lower The Cost Of Prescription Drugs For Millions Of Medicare Recipients

Investing In Generic Drugs Would Make It "Easier For Companies To Develop Generic Drugs" And Put "Generics Into Markets With No Existing Competition." "But when he was confirmed back in May, Gottlieb identified generics as the space where the agency could potentially have the most impact in the quickest way - both by making it easier for companies to develop generic drugs and nudging generics into markets with no existing competition." (Paige Winfield Cunningham, "The Health 202: Generic Drugs Had A Great 2017," The Washington Post , 1/2/18)

Overall In 2017, The FDA Approved 1,027 Generic Drugs For Sale, A "A Record-Setting Number." "In 2017, the FDA approved a record-setting number of generic prescription drugs for sale in the marketplace in an effort to lower costs and bring more competition to market; the number of generic approvals by the FDA has increased from 492 in 2015 to 1,027 in 2017." ("2017: A Year of Accomplishment," U.S. Department Of Health And Human Services , 1/26/18, p. 15)

FDA Commissioner Gottlieb Called The Numbers A "Milestone" And A "Victory For Consumers." (Scott Gottlieb, Twitter Feed , 10/17/17)

In November 2017, The Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Took An "Important Step" And Released A Memo Regarding A Revision In The Physician Fee Schedule That Would "Modernize The Medicare Payment System." "As part of the President's priority to reduce drug costs for Americans, CMS is taking an important step in the Physician Fee Schedule to modernize the Medicare payment system through innovation in the biopharmaceutical market." (Press Release, "CMS Finalizes Policies That Reduce Provider Burden, Lower Drug Prices," Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services , 11/2/17)

The Notice Announced That In 2018, CMS Would Begin Updating Payments For "Biologicals," Which Are Lower-Cost Alternatives To Certain Prescription Drugs Which Would Promote Competition And Make Sure That Patients "Have Access To Lower Cost Therapies." "Beginning in 2018, CMS will update payment for biosimilars, which are lower-cost alternatives to certain types of drugs known as 'biologicals.' This change promotes competition to ensure millions of patients will have access to new lower cost therapies." (Press Release, "CMS Finalizes Policies That Reduce Provider Burden, Lower Drug Prices," Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services , 11/2/17)

In April 2018, CMS Released Final Policies That Would Reduce The "Maximum Amount" That A Low-Income Beneficiary Would Pay For Certain Prescription Biosimilars. "The final policies announced today further the Trump Administration's commitment to lowering drug prices. CMS is finalizing a reduction in the maximum amount that low-income beneficiaries pay for certain innovative medicines known as 'biosimilars.'" (Press Release, "CMS Lowers The Cost Of Prescription Drugs For Medicare Beneficiaries," Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services , 4/2/18)

Beneficiaries Will Now Save On Coinsurance On Medicare Part B Drugs Administered At 340B Program Hospitals. "In Medicare, a rule implemented for 2018 will help beneficiaries save on coinsurance on Part B drugs administered at hospitals that participate in the 340B program by reducing the amount Medicare pays for those drugs." (Press Release, "CMS Lowers The Cost Of Prescription Drugs For Medicare Beneficiaries," Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services , 4/2/18)

  • Coinsurance Is An Amount That A Recipient Would Pay As A Percentage Of The Drug Cost. "With coinsurance, you pay a percentage of the cost (like, 25%) of the drug." ("Copayment/Coinsurance In Drug Plans," Medicare.gov , Accessed 5/10/18)
  • The 340B Program Has Allowed Hospitals To Buy Drugs At A "Lower Cost" And Now Medicare Beneficiaries Will Benefit From Those Discounts. "The 340B program allows hospitals to buy drugs at a lower cost. Due to CMS's policy change last year, Medicare beneficiaries are currently benefiting from the discounts that 340B hospitals receive." (Press Release, "CMS Lowers The Cost Of Prescription Drugs For Medicare Beneficiaries," Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services , 4/2/18)

In 2018 Alone, It Was Estimated That Medicare Beneficiaries Had Saved $320 Million On Out-Of-Pocket Payments On These Drugs. "Due to CMS's policy change last year, Medicare beneficiaries are currently benefiting from the discounts that 340B hospitals receive. Beneficiaries are saving an estimated $320 million on out-of-pocket payments for these drugs in 2018 alone." (Press Release, "CMS Lowers The Cost Of Prescription Drugs For Medicare Beneficiaries," Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services , 4/2/18)

  • Out-Of-Pocket Costs Are Expenses For Medical Care That "Aren't Reimbursed By Insurance," And Include Deductibles, Coinsurance, And Copayments. "Your expenses for medical care that aren't reimbursed by insurance. Out-of-pocket costs include deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments for covered services plus all costs for services that aren't covered." ("Out-Of-Pocket-Costs," Healthcare.gov , Accessed 5/10/18)
  • In 2015, Nearly A Quarter Of Insurance Enrollees Have Spent $1,000 Or More On Out-Of-Pocket Expenses. "While the majority - over 60% - of insurance enrollees had less than $500 in out-of-pocket expenses in 2015, nearly a quarter spent $1,000 or more on health care services and more than 1 in 10 workers spent over $2,000." (Gary Claxton, Cynthia Cox And Bradley Sawyer, "An Analysis Of Who Is Most At Risk For High Out-Of-Pocket Health Spending," Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker , 10/4/17)
  • This Trend Has Represented A "Growing Fraction Of Patients Over the Last Decade" Facing Higher Out-Of-Pocket Costs. "This represents a growing fraction of patients over the last decade, with the share spending $1,000 or more rising from 17% to 24%."(Gary Claxton, Cynthia Cox And Bradley Sawyer, "An Analysis Of Who Is Most At Risk For High Out-Of-Pocket Health Spending," Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker , 10/4/17)

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