Blackburn-Bredesen Debate: With Blackburn’s Abysmal Record on Health Care, Will She Try to “Shake It Off”?

Blackburn-Bredesen Debate
With Blackburn’s Abysmal Record on Health Care,
Will She Try to “Shake It Off”?

Nashville, Tenn. – The debate today between Marsha Blackburn and Phil Bredesen will make it very clear to voters where they stand on key issues, including health care.

Health care remains among the top issues in the state, as 2,718,800 Tennesseans have a pre-existing condition. Given Blackburn’s record on health care, here are four things to watch for today:

1)    How will Blackburn try and claim she supports protections for people with pre-existing conditions while actively trying to subvert them? Since 2011, Blackburn has voted no less than 5 times to fully repeal or substantially alter the Affordable Care Act (ACA), all of which would have taken away protections for people with preexisting conditions and cut essential health care programs. These actions directly contradict her claims to support coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

2)    How will Blackburn try and distance herself from Donald Trump on health care when she’s supported him all the way on the issue? Blackburn has supported Donald Trump 92% of the time. In his health care repeal and sabotage agenda, he’s doubled down on attacks on people with pre-existing conditions, in the courts, through legislation, and through regulations that promote junk plans and restrict Medicaid.

3)    Will Blackburn claim that she’ll protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security? Last year, Blackburn joined other House Republicans in passing a set of tax cuts to benefit the wealthiest Americans and big corporations at the expense of working families. These tax cuts will lead to trillion dollar deficits, which Republicans are now using as an excuse to go after Medicaid, Social Security and Medicare.

Earlier this month, Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council, confirmed that they still have their sights set on Americans’ care. Asked when programs like Social Security and Medicare will be looked at for reforms, Kudlow replied, “Everyone will look at that — probably next year.” And last year when President Trump signed the first round of $1.5 trillion tax bill that disproportionately benefits the wealthy, Speaker Paul Ryan made it clear they would cut programs like Medicaid that support working families. “Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt.”

4)    How will Blackburn claim she’s doing all she can to fight the opioid crisis? Medicaid and protections for preexisting conditions are the best tools in the policy toolbox to combat it, and Blackburn’s politically expedient votes to support legislation to confront the opioid crisis don’t change the damage she would do by eliminating those.

  • In 2014, Medicaid paid for 25 percent of all addiction treatment nationwide.

  • It is estimated that Medicaid expansion covers four in 10 people with an opioid use disorder.

  • The opioid epidemic is now the most deadly drug overdose crisis in U.S. history. In 2016, roughly 64,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, meaning that more American lives were lost due to drug overdoses in 2016 than were lost in combat during the entirety of the Vietnam War. Two-thirds of 2016 drug overdoses involved opioids.

  • Medicaid expansion has reduced unmet need for substance use treatment by more than 18 percent.


A Deeper Dive Into Blackburn’s Record on Health Care

Marsha Blackburn Supports Repealing The ACA And Its Protections For 2.7 Million Tennesseans with Pre-Existing Conditions

2011: Blackburn Voted For A Total Repeal Of The ACA.  Blackburn voted for The “Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act” would have repealed all of the Affordable Care Act. [HR 2, Roll Call Vote #14, 1/19/11]

2011:  Blackburn Voted To Repeal And Defund The ACA.  Blackburn voted for the fiscal 2012 budget that would have repealed and defunded the Affordable Care Act. [HCR 34, Roll Call Vote #277, 4/15/11]

2013:  Blackburn Voted For A Total Repeal Of The ACA.  Blackburn voted for HR 45, an act “to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.” [HR 45, Roll Call Vote #154, 5/16/13]

2015:  Blackburn Voted For A Total Repeal Of The ACA. Blackburn voted for HR 596, an act “to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.”  The bill also ordered House committees to develop a replacement that would “provide people with pre-existing conditions access to affordable health coverage,” but provided no specifics. [HR 596, Roll Call Vote #58, 2/3/15]

What would full repeal of the Affordable Care Act eliminate?

  • Protections for 2.7 million Tennesseans if they buy coverage on their own

  • Improvements to Medicare, including reduced costs for prescription drugs

  • Allowing kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26

  • Ban on annual and lifetime limits

  • Ban on insurance discrimination against women

  • Limit on out-of-pocket costs

  • Medicaid expansion currently covering 15 million people

  • Rules to hold insurance companies accountable

  • Small business tax credits

  • Marketplace tax credits and coverage for up to 200,000 Tennesseans

2017: Blackburn Voted For AHCA. Blackburn voted for passage of the American Health Care Act.  [HR 1628, Roll Call Vote #256, 5/4/17]

What Did AHCA Mean for Tennessee?

  • In 2026, more than 630,000 Tennesseans would lose coverage under this bill.

  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the American Health Care Act would have raised premiums 20 percent in 2018.

  • AHCA imposed what the AARP calls an “age tax” on older Americans. In Tennessee, out-of-pocket costs for older people could increase by as much as $12,325  by 2026.

  • The negative economic impact of the American Health Care Act would cause 32,241 Tennesseansto lose their jobs by 2022.

2018: Blackburn Said She Remains Committed To Repealing The Affordable Care Act. “Tennesseans know the false promises of a government-controlled system, and they are suffering from the impacts of Obamacare, which made health insurance and health care too expensive to afford. It has driven up the cost of all health insurance and forced 122,000 Tennesseans to pay a penalty. Last year, the Senate failed its promise to the American people when it refused to repeal the law, but Marsha remains committed to returning health care to a patient-centered system where families and doctors can make their decisions. She’ll fight to make health care accessible and affordable for all Tennesseans – unlike Democrats who will drive up health care costs and put the government in charge of your healthcare decisions.” [Marsha for Senate, accessed 9/28/18]

Although Blackburn Claims To Support Coverage For People With Pre-Existing Conditions She Voted For Legislation That Would Have Gutted Those Protections

Blackburn Claimed That AHCA Would Protect People With Pre-Existing Conditions And That Laws Preventing Discrimination Against Pre-Existing Conditions Were A Republican Idea.  “Marsha Blackburn: Yes, they are expecting to still be in there, preexisting conditions and older children, young adults up to the age of 26. Actually, preexisting conditions and 26-year-olds were two Republican provisions which made it into the [Obamacare] bill.” [Marsha Blackburn, Town Hall, 2/21/17]

  • The Washington Post Fact Checker Rated Blackburn’s Claim “Four Pinocchios.”  “There is no evidence that either of these popular elements of the ACA ‘were Republican provisions,’ as Blackburn claims. In fact, Blackburn is on record as promoting the concept of federally funded ‘high-risk pools’ even on the eve of the House vote for the Democratic bill that included a robust provision to bar insurance companies from refusing to cover preexisting conditions. Similarly, the Obama White House and House Democrats were the prime movers of the under-26 provision. Blackburn earns Four Pinocchios.” [Washington Post, 2/28/17]

What Did AHCA Mean For Pre-Existing Conditions?

  • The American Health Care Act weakens key protections of the Affordable Care Act by allowing states to let insurers charge people with pre-existing conditions more, among other provisions. The bill would also make it more likely insurers would cherrypick young and healthier people, causing costs to skyrocket for older, sicker people.

  • The American Health Care Act allowed states to eliminate community rating, meaning insurers would be able to charge people with pre-existing conditions more. This surcharge could be in the tens of thousands of dollars and even six figures: up to $4,270 for asthma, $17,060 for pregnancy, $26,180 for rheumatoid arthritis and $140,510 for metastatic cancer.

  • Politifact found that AHCA “would weaken protections” for those with pre-existing conditions and “would allow states to give insurers the power to charge people significantly more.”