Following the failure of the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act last week, President Donald Trump is on a mission to allow the law to "implode" by halting all subsidy payments to insurance companies—while progressives led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are seizing the opportunity to push for single-payer healthcare.
Presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway said Sunday that Trump will decide this week whether to make good on the threat he made over the weekend to allow the ACA, also called Obamacare, to implode by ending cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies.
The Obama administration set up the payment system in which the government pays a total of about $7 billion per year to insurance companies; the subsidies allow insurers to keep patients' costs down.
On Saturday, as the Republican leadership regrouped following the defeat of its healthcare bill, Trump referred to the payments as "bailouts" and threatened to end them as well as the federal government's contributions that help cover insurance for Congress members. An end to the payments would raise premiums by nearly 20 percent for millions of Americans, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2017
A lawsuit filed by the House Republicans against the Trump administration regarding the payments has already created volatility in the markets, as the GOP has falsely argued that the federal government doesn't have the authority to make payments to insurance companies.
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On Monday, Trump again suggested on Twitter that payments to insurance companies should stop.
If ObamaCare is hurting people, & it is, why shouldn't it hurt the insurance companies & why should Congress not be paying what public pays?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 31, 2017
Meanwhile, the Sanders Institute, run by Sen. Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane, teamed up Friday with National Nurses United to deliver a paper on single-payer healthcare to the offices of every member of Congress. The paper lays out the immense costs of the current system and notes the savings that would come with a federally-funded healthcare system:
Supporters of our market-driven model typically sabotage efforts to provide Medicare for all by focusing on how we would pay for it. This is disingenuous. We are already paying for it; we're just not receiving it. Approximately two-thirds of U.S. healthcare expenditures already come from taxpayers in the form of federal, state, and local government spending...The comparisons of U.S. spending and health outcomes to other countries strongly suggest that there is enough money in our current system to provide healthcare for all, if we spend that money fairly and wisely...There is enough money currently being spent on healthcare in the U.S. to provide Medicare for all.
The paper is just the latest action taken by the growing contingent that supports a single-payer system. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has urged centrist Democrats to support single-payer, offering voters a true alternative to the Republican Party, which last week saw 50 of its 52 senators vote in favor of a healthcare plan that would strip tens of millions of Americans of their healthcare over the next decade. Sanders has also vowed to introduce a Medicare for All proposal on the Senate floor in the coming weeks, telling CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, "We're tweaking the final points of the bill and we're figuring out how we can mount a national campaign to bring people together."
Recent polls show that Americans are warming to single-payer healthcare. Sixty percent told the Pew Research Center in June that the government should provide healthcare to citizens, and 33 percent said they favored single payer—up five percentage points from January and 12 points from 2014.