Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Donald Trump

There are three key ways in which President Donald Trump can continue his war to undermine the ACA. (Photo: Evan Guest/Flickr/cc)

Failing to Deliver "Great" Healthcare, Trump Now Just Wants System to "Implode"

President tweets ominous message encouraging everyone to "Watch!" what he does next

Jessica Corbett

Now that Senate Republicans have failed to pass even a "skinny repeal" of the Affordable Care Act, it seems the Trump administration will shift back to its strategy of sabotaging the law which governs the nation's healthcare system. After shaming the lawmakers who voted against the repeal, President Donald Trump ominously tweeted early Friday: "Let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!"

For the past seven years, Republicans have waged a war to dismantle Obamacare, but Trump's accession to president gave it new life. As Thomas B. Edsall writes in the New York Times:

The Trump administration has conducted a sustained war of attrition designed to inflict fatal damage on Obamacare. This war, often operating below the radar, entails the use of a quintessentially conservative strategy, and the cooperation of Congressional Republicans. In a way, it's pretty simple: You cut the budget, impose debilitating regulations, track the subsequent missteps and then attack the program as a failure.

There are three key ways, as Axios and The Hill outlined, in which the president can continue his war to undermine the ACA: stopping payments on cost-sharing subsidies; decreasing or sabotaging enrollment outreach; and weakening or outright ignoring the individual mandate.

The Trump administration has been paying Obamacare's cost-sharing subsidies month-to-month, despite requests from insurers for a long-term commitment. As Axios noted, "If he stops those payments, premiums will skyrocket even more than they already have."

The ACA could also suffer if the administration continues its troubling approach to advertising related to Obamacare. During the last open enrollment period, the administration pulled $5 million in advertising that's supposed to encourage Americans to sign up for health insurance coverage, according to The Hill. It also produced negative ads.  

The Daily Beast reported on the disparaging ads earlier this month:

Under Secretary Tom Price's stewardship, HHS has filmed and produced a series of testimonial videos featuring individuals claiming to have been harmed by Obamacare....Each testimonial has the same look, feel, and setting, with the subjects sitting before a gray backdrop and speaking directly to camera about how Obamacare has harmed their lives. 

"The Trump administration could also decide to stop enforcing the individual mandate, a move experts warn could cause the insurance markets to collapse," The Hill reported. "The mandate is designed to bring in healthy enrollees to balance out the sick ones. But if healthy people have no incentive to buy insurance, only the sickest will, sending premiums soaring."

The administration has already taken steps to weaken the individual mandate, as Reason reported in February, by making it voluntary for taxpayers to report on their IRS forms whether they maintained health coverage—essentially enabling filers to avoid the penalty fee for not carrying coverage, by allowing them to simply not report it.

Although the chairman of the Senate Health Committee, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), has promised to hold committee hearings in the coming weeks to discuss options for stabilizing insurance markets, action from Trump could further destabilize the individual health insurance market, which sells insurance plans to those who don't have access to it through an employer or public programs. 

"The wildcard is what the president does," Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) admitted to The Hill. "Obviously the president, through executive action, can make things ever more difficult."

As Edsall concludes in his aptly titled "Killing Obamacare SoftlyTimes op-ed: "Whether the ACA can survive the administration's strategy of death by 1,000 cuts, whether any plan delivering quality healthcare at an affordable price could survive a relentless assault like this, remains an open question."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Fresh Demands for 'Climate Emergency Declaration' as Monster Hurricane Ian Comes Ashore

"How can we call this anything but what it is—a climate emergency?" asked the Sunrise Movement.

Julia Conley ·


Apparent Sabotage of Nord Stream Pipelines Risks 'Unprecedented' Climate Nightmare

While it's unclear who was responsible for the damage, Greenpeace E.U. said "what's certain is that this is terrible news for the climate, and that Europe's addiction to gas must end."

Jake Johnson ·


New Report Reveals How 13 US States 'Shield the Fortunes of the World's Richest People'

"The concept of the 'offshore' tax haven has very much washed ashore," says the Institute for Policy Studies.

Kenny Stancil ·


11 Million Without Electricity in Cuba as Hurricane Ian Knocks Out Power Grid

One Cuban farm owner called the storm "apocalyptic, a real disaster."

Jake Johnson ·


85% of Global Population Set to Live Under 'Deadly' Austerity Measures Next Year

"In the worst of times, austerity is the worst possible choice," said one expert. "It should not even be on the agenda."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo