The Republican Party's attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may have failed, but that hasn't stopped President Donald Trump from doing everything in his power to sabotage the law—including personally intervening to ensure that individual states don't take steps to bolster health insurance markets and lower premiums.
"Shameful healthcare sabotage—more hypocrisy from the man who promised 'insurance for everybody.'"
—Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)"For months, officials in Republican-controlled Iowa had sought federal permission to revitalize their ailing health-insurance marketplace," the Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin reported Thursday. "Then President Trump read about the request in a newspaper story and called the federal director weighing the application. Trump's message in late August was clear, according to individuals who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations: Tell Iowa no."
And Iowa is not alone in being shunned by the Trump administration: Oklahoma has also sought federal approval to enact changes to their insurance markets to check rising premiums, only to be rebuffed by the White House.
Critics immediately expressed alarm that Trump would block even red states from working to "revitalize" their insurance exchanges—an indication of Trump's unwavering commitment to undermining his predecessor's healthcare law.
Shameful healthcare sabotage – more hypocrisy from the man who promised “insurance for everybody” https://t.co/W2xRiQCn2k
— Richard Blumenthal (@SenBlumenthal) October 6, 2017
— Taniel (@Taniel) October 6, 2017
Responding to the Post's report, New York Magazine's Eric Levitz noted that what is most concerning is not merely Trump's rejection of Iowa's proposals, which were extremely right-wing and undesirable. Rather, it is the fact that Trump rejected them purely in service of his ultimate "egotistical" goal of ensuring Obamacare's collapse.
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"Our president isn't deliberately increasing the number of Americans who will go without insurance next year so as to advance an ideological project," Levitz argues, "but solely out of a (likely misguided belief) that doing so will increase his chances of one day writing his name on a fancy-looking document—and declaring Barack Obama's signature achievement officially dead."
As Common Dreams reported last month, the Trump administration has already taken several steps to reduce Obamacare enrollment, including slashing the program's outreach and advertising budget by 90 percent.
With the ACA's fifth enrollment season starting on the first of November, many have argued that lack of outreach will significantly lower the number of people who sign up to receive health insurance.
The White House has also gone much further than simply not promoting the law. As The Daily Beast discovered in July, the Trump administration has been using taxpayer funds meant to advertise Obamacare to actively propagandize against it.
In a Twitter thread on Thursday, MoveOn.org's Washington director Ben Wikler argued that these efforts are "all intended to prove Trump's lie that the ACA is imploding."
Trump's ACA sabotage will mean the people buying coverage are sicker on average. So premiums shoot up. "Evidence" of failure—and real harm.
— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 5, 2017
To combat this sabotage, activists and healthcare experts recently launched a new project called Get America Covered, which aims to fill the gap left by the Trump administration's refusal to inform the public about their healthcare options.
"With an Open Enrollment period that's half as a long, a new final deadline to enroll, cancelled advertising, and gutted funding for guides who help people through the process, the administration is making it harder for people to get their healthcare coverage," wrote Lori Lodes, a co-founder of Get America Covered and former ACA outreach director. "We can't fix that but we can't sit on the sidelines either. So we're going to do everything we can to make sure people have the facts about the quality, affordable healthcare coverage that's available at HealthCare.gov."