Republicans did not oppose the Affordable Care Act because it failed to provide universal access to high-quality health services. They opposed it because the law was passed by a Democratic president; raised capital-gains taxes on millionaires; and provided the poor and middle-class with yet another public benefit that their big-dollar donors didn’t want to subsidize.
The Republican Party never made an honest argument for why their failed health-care plan would make coverage more affordable for most Americans. This was because no such argument existed. It has become clear now that Obamacare officially isn’t collapsing. But it soon will be, if the Trump administration has anything to say about it.
For months, the Trump administration has said it wants to stabilize the health insurance markets. But on Thursday, they announced a move that will do the opposite.
The Department of Health and Human said that for the 2018 Obamacare enrollment season, the program’s advertising budget will be cut from $100 million to $10 million. Funding for navigators, who help people enroll in health plans on the exchanges, will be cut from $63 million last year to about $37 million.
This is just the latest in a series of actions aimed at sabotaging the Affordable Care Act. In January the Trump administration pulled ads for Obamacare in the final days of the enrollment period, though they’d already been paid for. And last month it was revealed that the Trump administration used taxpayer money meant to encourage enrollment to launch a public relations campaign, complete with social media posts and video testimonials on the supposed evils of Obamacare.
Scaling back the enrollment push could mean fewer sign-ups from the younger, healthier people who are necessary to offset the costs of older, sicker, and costlier enrollees. But that is exactly what Republicans want in order to have a chance to pass Trumpcare and its massive tax cut for the rich.
There’s bipartisan support in Congress for continuing the payments and stabilizing the insurance market, but President Trump is still threatening to discontinue the cost-sharing reduction payments, which reduce costs for low-income customers. The uncertainty heading into the 2018 enrollment period, which starts on November 1, means that even if the payments continue, those who buy insurance on the exchanges next year may be in for doubt-digit premium hikes.