Making good on his promise to “never stop” his personal obsession to crush anything connected to Obamacare, late Thursday night President Trump issued a statement saying that his Administration would do away with Federal subsidies to health insurance companies that help pay out of pocket costs for people on low-incomes under the Affordable Care Act. Earlier in the day, President Trump circumvented Congress by signing an Executive Order allowing insurance companies to sell lower cost policies with fewer benefits as a means of drawing younger, healthier people away from existing Obamacare marketplaces.
What is this likely to mean for people with pre-existing conditions and disabilities? If cost-sharing reduction payments, which help people with lower incomes, are removed, what we pay for health insurance will undoubtedly rise sometimes sharply, or the companies currently providing care could decide to leave the marketplace altogether. This means while health care options for those with low incomes and pre-existing conditons will still be available in some form, the increased cost will make such plans impossible for many who are currently covered to afford them making Trump’s plan an option in name only.
To paraphrase the Washington Post, if President Trump was skirmishing with the Affordable Care Act before, “he’s now declared all-out war.” Anticipating this move, many state regulators asked insurance companies to provide them with two plans for 2018, one with the existing subsidies and another without, because the President has been threatening this move for months. When the insurance companies tabulated 2018 pricing, the cost differential for consumers was stark. In some cases, the difference was between a single digit percentage increase in premiums for next year and a 20% plus increase. In Iowa, the increase was projected to be at least 57% if not more.
As the Trump administration begins implementing the executive order designed to gut the existing Affordable Care Act marketplace, a new Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds a large majority of the public (71%), or slightly more than 7 out of every 10 Americans, want President Trump and his administration to do what they can to make the current law work instead.
Obamacare wasn’t collapsing as the President hoped it would, so it seems clear Trump is doing everything he can to sabotage the existing exchanges. Already, the Administration has gutted the annual marketing budget by 90% and slashed the sign-up period in half.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Enroll, and/or get others to sign-up as well. This year the Open Enrollment period for 2018 falls between November 1 and December 15 making 2018 Open Enrollment both the shortest, and the most difficult it has ever been. Trump clearly hopes all the confusion will keep people from participating. For activists and consumers, this means there has never been more important time to sign-up, or to help and encourage others to enroll as well (NOTE: The enrollment period varies by state, so check your Exchange’s enrollment period for exact dates).. Efforts like Get America Covered are doing what they can to bridge the gap, but time and money are limited.
CONTACT CONGRESS OR YOUR STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL OFFICE:
If they choose to, Congress could make cost-sharing reduction payments for health insurers permanent by passing legislation. In addition, some state attorneys general may sue to prevent the Administration from stopping subsidy payments. Until Trump’s grandstanding with the Executive Order, it was widely reported that Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander and ranking member Sen. Patty Murray have been working on a deal to fund health care subsidies in exchange for changes to Obamacare that Republicans have been seeking. Trump’s decision puts renewed pressure on Senators to reach a bipartisan deal to stabilize the market.
Legal challenges are likely coming as well. New York’s attorney general said he would sue to keep healthcare subsidies in place. California’s attorney general has promised to do the same.
Let’s make sure they do.