Just hours after signing a widely denounced executive order that is expected to drive up insurance costs for sick Americans, President Donald Trump took what critics called another "absolutely despicable" step toward dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA) late Thursday by cutting off cost-sharing subsidies that help low-income individuals and families afford out-of-pocket healthcare expenses.
"Intentionally harming Americans in an attempt to gain leverage isn't just unpresidential, it is sadistic."
—Working Families Party"Donald Trump reached a new low tonight," Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, wrote on Twitter following the president's announcement. "There is no justification for putting healthcare out of the reach of some of our most vulnerable populations."
For months Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress worked tirelessly to ram through a deeply unpopular ACA repeal plan that would have stripped insurance from tens of millions of Americans. Since these attempts failed, Trump has intensified his efforts sabotage the law by executive fiat.
Trump took to Twitter Friday to justify these actions—which analysts have said will throw insurance markets into chaos and cause premiums to skyrocket. Claiming that Obamacare is a "broken mess" now that the cost-sharing subsidies have ceased, Trump urged Democrats to reach out to him to fix the law.
This attempt to achieve a political advantage by deliberately rattling insurance markets was quickly denounced by critics as a "spiteful" maneuver that could put millions of lives at risk.
"Intentionally harming Americans in an attempt to gain leverage isn't just unpresidential," the Working Families Party concluded on Twitter late Thursday, "it is sadistic."
Many argued that with these latest moves to undermine the ACA, Trump has now officially taken ownership of the nation's healthcare.
"You break it, you buy it," wrote Judd Legum of ThinkProgress. "There is no Obamacare, this is Trumpcare now."
Trump's Obamacare tweets this morning read like the arsonist saying, "Oh I see your house just went up in flames. Call me to fix."
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) October 13, 2017
Trump doesn’t get that when he tosses a grenade into the health care system in broad daylight, we see who did it—and the shrapnel hits him https://t.co/BWSbtkcQcO
— Ben Wikler (@benwikler) October 13, 2017
While Trump's decision to end cost-sharing payments to insurance companies was met with a chorus of outrage, the move was not surprising, given that the president has since his inauguration threatened to end the subsidies.
"You break it, you buy it. There is no Obamacare, this is Trumpcare now."
—Judd Legum, ThinkProgress
As such, state attorneys general were poised to file suit against the White House, should Trump follow through with his threats.
Following the administration's official announcement that the subsidies would end late Thursday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman—speaking on behalf of a coalition of 18 states—vowed to sue, if necessary, to defend the healthcare of families throughout the country.
"Hundreds of thousands of New York families rely on the Affordable Care Act's subsidies for their healthcare—and again and again, President Trump has threatened to cut off these subsidies to undermine our healthcare system and force Congress to the negotiating table. That's unacceptable," Schneiderman said.
"This summer, the courts granted our intervention to defend these vital subsidies and the quality, affordable healthcare they ensure for millions of families across the country," Schneiderman concluded. "Our coalition of states stands ready to sue if President Trump cuts them off."