Posts from Tara Culp-Ressler

6 things you should know about Trumpcare

Tara Culp-Ressler

Tara Culp-Ressler Health Editor, Think Progress

House Republicans released on Monday a plan to undo Obamacare that will likely leave millions more Americans uninsured.

After significant internal division about the path forward on Obamacare, lawmakers unveiled two bills that, taken together, would repeal and replace President Obama’s signature health care reform law. House committees are expected to hold votes on the bills as early as this week.

Here’s what you need to know about the legislation, and what it says about the House GOP’s plan for the future of health insurance in America:

It includes massive cuts to Medicaid, the program that provides coverage for millions of low-income Americans.

The proposed replacement bill includes big cuts to Medicaid, the government program that provides coverage for low-income Americans.

It would phase out the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, which extended coverage to more than 11 million low-income people, beginning in 2020. It would also restructure the way the entire program is funded — offering states a lump sum to administer Medicaid coverage rather than providing however much funding states need to cover the pool of Medicaid eligible residents — putting the future of Medicaid in jeopardy.

It defunds Planned Parenthood and eliminates abortion coverage.

The GOP’s replacement proposal includes two major provisions aimed at eroding access to reproductive health care.

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The Impact Of Obamacare On Cancer Outcomes Is Becoming Clearer

Tara Culp-Ressler

Tara Culp-Ressler Health Editor, Think Progress

The Impact Of Obamacare On Cancer Outcomes Is Becoming Clearer

More young women are getting screened and diagnosed with early-stage cervical cancer, potentially because Obamacare allows them to access insurance benefits through their parents’ plans, according to a new study from American Cancer Society researchers.

The researchers examined a large database that tracks cancer cases in the United States. They compared the cancer diagnoses among women between the ages of 21 to 25 to the diagnoses among women between the ages of 26 to 34 — both before and after the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion took effect.

An Obamacare provision that allows young adults to remain insured through their parents’ plans until the age of 26 appears to have affected the rates of cervical cancer diagnosis among that demographic. After the ACA, the diagnosis rates significantly rose for the women in their early twenties and remained fairly constant for older women.

“It’s a very remarkable finding, actually,” researcher Dr. Ahmedin Jemal told the New York Times. “You see the effect of the ACA on the cancer outcomes.”

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Ben Carson Was Confronted With His History As A Fetal Tissue Researcher. His Explanation Makes No Sense.

Tara Culp-Ressler

Tara Culp-Ressler Health Editor, Think Progress

Ben Carson Was Confronted With His History As A Fetal Tissue Researcher. His Explanation Makes No Sense.

GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson is struggling to explain what makes Planned Parenthood’s facilitation of fetal tissue donation different than his own brain research, which has also relied on samples from aborted fetuses.

Carson, a former neurosurgeon, used 17-week-old fetal tissue samples in a 1992 study seeking to better understand the development of the brain. That revelation, which was published on Dr. Jen Gunter’s blog on Wednesday night, is leading reporters to question why the GOP candidate called fetal tissue research “disturbing” in the wake of several inflammatory videos depicting Planned Parenthood employees collecting biological material from aborted fetuses.

After a right-wing group first published footage suggesting Planned Parenthood was “selling aborted baby parts,” Carson strongly condemned the organization. He told Fox News that the scientific benefits of fetal research have been “overpromised” and “under-delivered.” He also said that 17-week-old fetuses are human beings, saying, “How can you believe that that’s just an irrelevant mass of cells?”

On Thursday, Carson defended himself to the Washington Post, suggesting that his 1992 study was based on a different “intent” than Planned Parenthood’s work.

“You have to look at the intent,” Carson said. “To willfully ignore evidence that you have for some ideological reason is wrong. If you’re killing babies and taking the tissue, that’s a very different thing than taking a dead specimen and keeping a record of it.”

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The Proof That Obamacare Is Working Is Getting Really Hard To Ignore

Tara Culp-Ressler

Tara Culp-Ressler Health Editor, Think Progress

More than five years after President Obama first signed his landmark health care reform law, it’s becoming more difficult for critics to deny that it’s accomplishing many of its major goals.

On Monday, Gallup released the latest data on the uninsured rate, finding that the states that embraced Obamacare have seen the largest drops in the number of residents going without health care. Essentially, the 22 states that have worked to implement both major provisions of the law — including setting up a state-level insurance marketplace and expanding the eligibility requirements for Medicaid — have seen their uninsured rates drop by an average of 7.1 points, about two points more than the remaining states that have not taken both steps. In some states, the uninsured rate has declined by more than 10 percentage points.

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Jeb Bush Quietly Suggests ‘Phasing Out’ Medicare

Tara Culp-Ressler

Tara Culp-Ressler Health Editor, Think Progress

Jeb Bush Quietly Suggests ‘Phasing Out’ Medicare

GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush suggested that the United States should figure out a way to “phase out” Medicare, the federal program that provides insurance to more than 50 million elderly and disabled people, at a political event on last week.

MSNBC reports that Bush was speaking at an event sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, a right-wing group backed by the billionaire Koch Brothers that has doggedly advocated against fully implementing the Affordable Care Act.

In his comments, Bush referenced Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) politically contentious plan to radically restructure the Medicare program — which independent analysts predicted would more than double health costs for the average 65-year-old — and criticized progressive lawmakers for failing to engage with Ryan’s proposals. Despite recent evidence that the program’s finances are secure, the former Florida governor suggested that Medicare isn’t solvent.

“I think a lot of people recognize that we need to make sure we fulfill the commitment to people that have already received the benefits, that are receiving the benefits. But that we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something — because they’re not going to have anything,” Bush said.

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The Oklahoma Republican Party’s Deeply Offensive Facebook Post

Tara Culp-Ressler

Tara Culp-Ressler Health Editor, Think Progress

The Oklahoma Republican Party is making the case against food stamps by comparing poor people to animals, reviving a stereotype that’s often deployed against Americans who rely on government benefits to feed their families.

In a Facebook post published Monday night, the Oklahoma GOP suggested that the millions of Americans receiving food stamps this year should not be enrolled in the program because “the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.”

CREDIT: Facebook

Opponents of maintaining state and federal funding for social safety net programs have a long history of making comparisons between government beneficiaries and animals, which is widely considered to be a racially coded insult.

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Lifelong Republican Turns On His Party, Embraces Obamacare

Tara Culp-Ressler

Tara Culp-Ressler Health Editor, Think Progress

Luis Lang, who is currently crowdfunding for medical expenses that he can’t afford because he didn’t sign up for insurance under Obamacare, has become a viral sensation. However, the 49-year-old South Carolina resident says he doesn’t want to be the poster child for the Republican Party’s opposition to health care reform anymore.

At the end of last week, the Charlotte Observer reported that Lang, a lifelong Republican who’s previously prided himself on covering his own medical bills, can’t afford to pay thousands of dollars to treat an issue stemming from his chronic diabetes. Lang is suffering form bleeding in his eyes and a partially detached retina, which will cause him to go blind if left untreated. So he set up a GoFundMe page to solicit $30,000 in donations to cover a costly surgery that will save his vision.

Since then, the story has been picked up in left-leaning outlets across the country and covered in nationally syndicated newspaper columns. Obamacare supporters flocked to Lang’s GoFundMe page to urge him to change his mind about the health law.

In an interview with ThinkProgress, Lang joked that he might be the most hated Republican in the country right now. But he also said that, thanks in part to a flood of media attention that led him to learn more about health care policy, he doesn’t identify with the GOP anymore.

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Rick Scott Is Revealing The GOP’s Ultimate Obamacare Hypocrisy

Tara Culp-Ressler

Tara Culp-Ressler Health Editor, Think Progress

A dramatic showdown over health care funding that’s been unfolding in Florida over the past several weeks reveals the lengths that Republican leaders are willing to go in their quest to remain publicly opposed to Obamacare.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), one of the staunchest opponents of the health care reform law, refuses to accept federal funds to implement Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, which would extend coverage to about 800,000 low-income people in the state. At the same time, however, Scott wants the Obama administration to give him federal funds to help implement a specific Medicaid pilot program. Ultimately, Scott is demanding money from the government that doesn’t appear to be linked to Obamacare — and he’s willing to go to great lengths to get it.

Scott wants the government to give Florida about $1 billion in federal funds for a Medicaid pilot project — called the Low-Income Pool, or LIP — that helps support hospitals that serve low-income and uninsured patients. LIP is a program that was initiated under the Jeb Bush administration to address hospitals’ budget shortfalls from providing too much uncompensated care to uninsured people who can’t pay their bills.

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3 Male Lawmakers Propose Eliminating Obamacare’s Maternity Coverage

Tara Culp-Ressler

Tara Culp-Ressler Health Editor, Think Progress

In their quest to repeal and replace Obamacare, three Republican lawmakers have offered an alternative proposal to the health reform law that would roll back some of its major consumer protections, including maternity care for pregnant women.

Now that Republicans have control of Congress, and a Supreme Court challenge against Obamacare threatens to undermine the current structure of the law’s state-level marketplaces, GOP lawmakers are under more pressure to put forth their own health care proposals. Over the past several years, the party has not been able to unite around a single Obamacare replacement, and outside observers have become increasingly skeptical that Republicans have any kind of viable alternative at all.

On Wednesday, three Republicans attempted to allay those concerns by putting forth the first health care plan the GOP has unveiled this year. The proposed “Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment Act” has not yet been been translated into legislative language, so it’s unclear how it will operate in practice.

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Obamacare Started Accepting New Signups Again — And Four Good Things Happened

Tara Culp-Ressler

Tara Culp-Ressler Health Editor, Think Progress

Obamacare Started Accepting New Signups Again — And Four Good Things Happened

The second open enrollment period for the health insurance law kicked off this past weekend to relatively little fanfare. After its highly publicized first round of enrollment, the law isn’t commanding quite as much attention this time around. That’s partly because fewer people are expected to sign up in 2015. And it also may reflect the fact that the general atmosphere surrounding enrollment is different now.

While the beginning of last year’s enrollment period was marked by catastrophic website glitches that prevented people from signing up, as well as general uncertainty about how the law was going to work, the outlook is a little brighter this year. Here are four pieces of good news going into the law’s second sign-up period:

1. There haven’t been major issues with HealthCare.gov so far.

While the first day of enrollment wasn’t altogether free of technological issues — some users had issues logging into their accounts, and others received inaccurate estimates for the subsidies available to help them buy plans — HealthCare.gov hasn’t had the same kind of major problems that plagued the site last year.

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Union Matters

Powering America

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

Fierce thunderstorms, heavy snows and unusually powerful hurricanes ravaged America’s fragile power grid and plunged millions into darkness this year.

And even as these natural disasters wreaked havoc across the country, COVID-19 stay-at-home orders sparked a surge in residential electrical demand, placing new stress on a failing system.

A long-overdue overhaul of the nation’s electrical infrastructure would not only ensure America continues functioning during a crisis but help to reinvigorate the pandemic-shattered economy.

Built in the 1950s and 60s, most of America’s electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure lives on borrowed time. Engineers never designed it to withstand today’s increasingly frequent and catastrophic storms fueled by climate change, let alone the threats posed by hackers and terrorists.

To ensure a reliable power supply for homes, schools and businesses, America needs to invest in a more resilient, higher capacity grid.

That means either burying electrical lines or insulating above-ground wires and replacing wooden utility poles with structures made of steel or concrete. Other strategies include creating a battery-storage system to provide backup power, building coastal barriers to protect infrastructure against storm surge and further diversifying into wind and solar production.

Also, a shift toward more localized generation and distribution networks would limit the impact of any one power outage.

Making these upgrades with U.S.-made materials and labor will both stimulate the economy and protect national security. American steelworkers, tradespeople and manufacturing workers have the expertise to build a power grid strong enough to weather whatever storms come America’s way.

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Stronger Together

Stronger Together