Republicans failed yet again to “repeal and replace” the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, with the “Graham-Cassidy-Johnson-Heller” health care bill last month.
In response, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) told President Donald Trump repeal and replace is “off the table.”
Now it seems the president is hell bent on using his executive authority to allow former President Barack Obama’s signature legislation to die a death by a thousand cuts.
Thursday night, President Trump issued an executive order ending subsidies that currently allow low-income Americans to purchase healthcare from the ACA marketplace exchange.
Blaming Obama, Trump accused ACA cost-sharing reduction payments of being unlawful and “yet another example of how the previous administration abused taxpayer dollars and skirted the law to prop up a broken system.”
Friday morning, Trump tweeted:
“The Democrats [sic] ObamaCare is imploding. Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix! ObamaCare is a broken mess. Piece by piece we will now begin the process of giving America the great HealthCare it deserves!”
Ironically, “imploding” is exactly what the ACA will do without the federal subsidies underscoring it. Republicans can then return to their constituents, many of whom rely heavily on the ACA, and claim they were correct in their dire predictions regarding the law’s failure.
The monthly subsidies, worth an estimated $7 billion, may stop almost immediately since Congress hasn’t allocated funding for them.
Trump’s action is likely to jolt already precarious ACA markets.
Greg Scott, who oversees Deloitte’s health plans consulting practice, commented:
“Certainly problematic markets are going to become more unstable.”
Shortly after news broke, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) tweeted:
“The nonpartisan CBO [Congressional Budget Office] estimates this will raise premiums by 20%. The President is destroying health care to make a political point.”
Sen. Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a joint statement Thursday night:
“It is a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America. Make no mistake about it, Trump will try to blame the Affordable Care Act, but this will fall on his back and he will pay the price for it.”
“The move is likely to draw lawsuits and may put pressure on Congress to appropriate funding for the subsidies, which help insurers reduce out-of-pocket costs for low-income Obamacare customers. The decision follows Trump’s signing of an executive order earlier today that directs federal agencies to rewrite regulations to encourage the rise of a raft of cheap, loosely regulated health insurance plans that don’t have to comply with certain Obamacare consumer protections and benefit rules. Trump touted the move as a step toward unwinding Obamacare.”
John Baackes, CEO of L.A. Care Health plan, said:
“What it adds up to me is a gross dereliction of duty. The Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land and the cost-reduction subsidies are part of that. Even if there’s a lawsuit about it, it should still be honored until the last appeal is exhausted. I thought they took oaths to uphold the law of the land. They’re just flaunting it now.”
Eighteen states, most notably California and New York, plus the District of Columbia have already joined a lawsuit filed Friday to stop Trump.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman stated:
“[I will] not allow President Trump to once again use New York families as political pawns in his dangerous, partisan campaign to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act at any cost.”
Schneiderman already threatened a lawsuit back in July after Republicans failed then to repeal the ACA.
According to Trump, this move is designed to provide all Americans with healthcare that “will cost the United States government virtually nothing and people will have great, great healthcare. And when I say people, I mean by the millions and millions.”
To use one of his own favorite phrases, “We’ll see.”
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