HCAN Editorial Board Memo: President Trump Should Protect Americans’ Health Care, Not Ensure Market Failure

To:         Editorial Board Members and Columnists

From:    Health Care for America Now (HCAN)

Date:     May 8, 2017

Re:         President Trump Should Protect Americans’ Health Care, Not Ensure Market Failure

President Donald Trump’s repeated statement that Obamacare is “going to explode” isn’t just a prediction – he’s the one making the bombs and lighting the match.

While Congress continues to advance the Republican repeal bill, which would strip at least 24 million Americans of vital health insurance, Speaker Paul Ryan and President Trump are scheming behind the scenes to ensure the Affordable Care Act (ACA) fails by sowing chaos and uncertainty in the health care market, despite the harm it will do to millions of Americans. In fact, their inflammatory rhetoric and continued mixed signals have made insurers so worried, many are pulling out of the market entirely, leaving rural communities like Knoxville or much of Iowa without any options for purchasing health insurance.

Please consider editorializing that President Trump and Republicans in Congress should not play political games with the health of millions of Americans. While the debate about the American Health Care Act unfolds in Congress, the administration should not work to create uncertainly in the future and undermine existing, functioning health care markets. Instead, they should do everything in their power to ensure Americans have the affordable health care they need—that means defending subsidies and creating more certainty in the market.

Holding Cost-Sharing Reduction Payments in Limbo, Threatening Affordable Care

One of the main ways the Affordable Care Act helps keep out-of-pocket health care costs manageable for Americans is the cost-sharing reduction payments provision for those receiving health insurance through the exchanges. However, the Trump Administration has left these payments in limbo, refusing to definitively state whether they will continue to fund these payments or defend them in court from a lawsuit by Congressional Republicans. These payments are especially vital in rural markets—a large part of President Trump’s base of support. If the Trump Administration decides not to fund them or fight the lawsuit, those payments will stop; insurance companies will send premiums through the roof; and some will stop selling health insurance altogether.

The result is that millions of Americans, many of whom voted for President Trump, will lose health care coverage or go bankrupt to pay skyrocketing costs, including:

  • Nearly a quarter-million in Pennsylvania;
  • Nearly 125 thousand in Wisconsin;
  • More than 160 thousand in Michigan; and
  • More than 1.1 million people in Florida.

Creating Chaos in the Market to Decrease Competition

When Carrier announced it would lay off 1,500 workers at its Indiana factories, President Trump tried to intervene almost immediately. And when Ford announced that it would invest $1.2 billion in Michigan plants to create 130 jobs, he claimed credit even though Ford had planned the investment prior to the election. But now, when millions are facing the loss of their health insurance as providers like Medica threaten to leave the markets that President Trump and Ryan have thrown into turmoil, President Trump is content to sentence everyday Americans to poor health and financial ruin.

President Trump and the Republicans are hoping if they ensure the death of the ACA, they’ll be able to pin the failure on Democrats and seed more support for their harmful repeal bill, but new polls show that Americans aren’t buying it.

From his first days in office, President Trump has worked to sabotage the ACA. During the finals days of open enrollment, he stopped advertising for HealthCare.gov. He signed an executive order on day one that suggested his administration would not enforce the individual mandate that is central to functioning marketplaces. And throughout, he has beat the drum of repeal and threatened “explosion” and “implosion” in a way that’s intended to create uncertainty for insurers and create instability in the marketplaces.

We urge you to editorialize on the need to ensure millions of Americans don’t lose their health care coverage and tell President Trump to stop gambling with Americans’ health care by undermining the ACA. It’s time for the President to make a commitment to paying the dollars needed to fund the crucial Cost-Sharing Reduction payments.

If you have any questions or would like additional information, including the data on cost sharing for all 50 states, please contact Robyn Shapiro at robyn.shapiro@berlinrosen.com or 202-800-7407.