…there is a powerful faction inside the White House, led by the president himself, that is rooting for the American health care system to collapse. The executive branch’s strategy is to persuade the public that the ACA’s meltdown is inevitable and thereby prod recalcitrant Republicans in the legislative branch to get on board with an unpopular replacement plan. As Trump told The Post in March: “The best thing politically is to let Obamacare explode.”
He’s fooling around and people are getting hurt. …excerpted from a piece in the WaPo today:
…Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced that it is pulling out of the federal exchange in Ohio, which means that there will be no insurer offering coverage in at least 20 of this state’s 88 counties.
The news instantly became a political hot potato, offering an early test of whether Trump will be able to successfully deflect responsibility for a system whose collapse is being hastened by his decisions.
…the company blamed the Trump administration – citing “the lack of certainty” over whether the federal government will continue to fund cost-sharing subsidies. “Planning and pricing for ACA-compliant health plans has become increasingly difficult due to the shrinking individual market as well as continual changes in federal operations, rules and guidance,” the insurer said in a statement.
The administration has taken many steps, big and small, to make the exchanges less stable and discourage companies from offering plans. One of Trump’s first executive orders directed agencies to ease regulatory burdens created by the ACA, which weakened some of the system’s foundations. The Internal Revenue Service then announced it would not enforce the individual mandate. Many healthy young people only participate in the system, which keeps premiums lower for everyone else, because they don’t want to pay the fine. Then Trump’s team curtailed consumer outreach that had already been planned during the final days of the 2017 enrollment period.
All of this has created a weird dynamic in which the very agency tasked with administering a law seems to be publicly cheerleading for its demise. The Department of Health and Human Services blasts out a steady stream of press releases about rising premiums and other weaknesses in the system, which adds to the uncertainty and the lack of confidence.
“…For the moment, the administration has defaulted to a position of doing little to try to soothe the health insurance industry even as many insurers warn that federal actions – or inaction – could aggravate the situation.”
— The biggest source of industry anxiety is the issue of cost-sharing subsidies that Anthem cited in its Ohio announcement. It’s still up in the air whether the Trump administration will continue fronting the money that helps 7 million Americans with ACA plans afford deductible and co-pays. …