By Dr. Gerald Friedman
After multiple failures to design or pass a workable plan to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. The Trump administration has announced an executive order that his allies have explicitly admitted was designed to make the ACA untenable. The plan announced the end of “Cost Sharing Reduction” payments by the Federal Government, which were designed to subsidize the price of plans in the marketplace, keeping premiums low for individuals looking to buy insurance. This executive order would make insurance premiums unaffordable to millions of Americans, and would reduce our access to high-quality healthcare. While Congress is scrambling to scrape together a plan that would keep these payments alive for two more years, the administration continues to sabotage our healthcare system. It is the same deliberate policy as slashing advertising budgets for health insurance enrollments, and limiting the eligibility period: all to try and reduce the number of people with health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
Multiple times this year, Congress and the American people have rejected alterations to the Affordable Care Act that would leave millions of Americans uninsured, raise premiums by upwards of 20%, and make significant cuts to Medicaid. The President is now trying to force people to bend to his will by using the destruction of the healthcare system as a bargaining chip. The lives and health of American citizens are too important to be used as a pawn in the President’s imaginary game of chess, but that’s exactly how he’s treating it.
Instead of damaging our health, families, and economy legislatively, the administration is doing it unilaterally. The result will be nothing but patients suffering, and the costs of uncompensated care reverberating through the healthcare system. While the President promised he was focused on job creation and the economy, creating an unaffordable healthcare and insurance system costs will mean that people have less money to spend on consumer goods, entertainment, and services, which will mean slower economic growth and less jobs. There is simply no justification for this decision.
As a candidate, Donald Trump ran on a populist message, promising to fight for the little guy, and create a healthcare system which insured everyone at a lower cost. Instead of pursuing the serious, fundamental reforms we need in our healthcare system to ensure low cost universal coverage, we’re stuck with a thoughtless “take the money and run” strategy from the White House which will hurt patients, doctors, and our economy.
Dr. Gerald Friedman is a Professor of Economics & Undergraduate Program Director at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. A graduate of Columbia and Harvard, he has drafted funding plans for both statewide and federal single-payer systems, and is an advisor to the Business Initiative for Health Policy.