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U.S. Healthcare

2017-OCT to 2018-JUN. U.S.:
Pres. Trump attacks Obamacare.
Feds no longer defend key parts
of the Affordable Care Act in court.

Part 21

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2017-OCT-12 to 16: President Trump attacks "Obamacare," and issues a false claim about it:

On OCT-12, he announced that subsidies for low income Obamacare users will be terminated. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) said that this would threaten:

"... the ability of vulnerable people to receive health care."

President Trump claimed that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) no longer exists. Addressing a meeting of his Cabinet, he claimed:

"Obamacare is finished. It’s dead. It’s gone. You shouldn’t even mention it. It’s gone. There is no such thing as Obamacare anymore."

In reality, Obamacare is still the law of the land. The next annual sign-up period will run from 2017-NOV-01 to DEC-15 in most states. 2

Sadly, many uninsured people will probably interpret President Trump's statement literally, will not bother to try to enroll in Obamacare, and remain uninsured and vulnerable to untreated illness and death.

Jonathan Cohn, writing for Huffington Post, said:

"A critical mass of insurers has remained in the [ACA] program because, as of this year, their financials were finally improving and they could see the makings of the stable, profitable market that the law’s architects always envisioned. But that future was dependent on an administration that wanted the program to succeed. The Trump administration feels differently, and insurers will be thinking about that, hard, in the spring when they make their decisions about whether to stay in the program for 2019 and beyond. ..." 3

Trump has also reduced the ACA's advertising budget and the length of the signup interval, with the apparent intent of making his expectation of the death of the ACA into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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2017-OCT-12: President Trump terminates some important payments to health insurance companies:

These payments were paid to health insurers so that they could offer lower health care premiums under Obamacare for low and middle income customers. Insurance companies had expected to receive about $10 billion in payments during 2018. This will force companies to increase premiums. This will undoubtedly cause many customers to cancel their health insurance.

Chuck Schumer, (D-NY) issued three tweets on the same day:

  • "Sadly, instead of working to lower health costs for Americans, it seems [that the President] ... will single handedly hike Americans’ health premiums."

  • "It is a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America."

  • "Make no mistake about it, [the President] ... will try to blame the Affordable Care Act, but this will fall on his back and he will pay the price for it." 4

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2018-JUN-07: The Federal Justice Department announces that it will no longer defend important parts of the ACA (Affordable Care Act) in court:

Congress recently repealed that part of the ACA that fines individuals who have chosen to do without health care insurance coverage. In response, Texas and 19 other Republican-led state governments are suing the federal government. They claim that without this "individual mandate" payment, the entire ACA is unconstitutional. Meanwhile, California and some other Democrat-led states are defending the law in its original form.

One of the important functions of the Federal Justice Department is to defend all federal legislation whenever it is attacked in a court. On JUN-07, in a very unusual move, the Justice Department filed a brief in a Texas federal court announcing that they would no longer defend parts of the ACA, including:

  • The ACA's "individual mandate" requirement that everyone be protected under a health care plan, and

  • The requirement that insurance plans must cover all medical conditions.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions informed Congress that President Trump approved this withdrawal of support by the Justice Department.

The Trump administration agrees that -- by deleting the fine -- that part of the ACA that requires persons to have health insurance coverage is also unconstitutional. It, and other provisions should be removed. But they would like to retain that part of the ACA that covers the Medicaid expansion and retain some other parts of the law as well.

America’s Health Insurance Plans is a trade group organized by U.S. health insurance companies. They issued a statement saying that:

"Zeroing out the individual mandate penalty should not result in striking important consumer protections. Removing those provisions will result in renewed uncertainty in the individual market, create a patchwork of requirements in the states, cause rates to go even higher for older Americans and sicker patients, and make it challenging to introduce products and rates for 2019."

Lawyer Donald Verrilli Jr. once defended the ACA at the U.S. Supreme court during the Obama administration. He said that the Justice Department's policy is:

"... a sad moment. ... I find it impossible to believe that the many talented lawyers at the department could not come up with any arguments to defend the ACA’s insurance market reforms, which have made such a [positive] difference to millions of Americans."

Webmaster's comment:

I am certain that these "talented lawyers" are quite capable to reform the ACA. However, to create a path forward that Republicans and Democrats in Congress would both accept is probably an impossible task.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Image Gorelova downloaded from Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images, image #9044646.
  2. Igor Bobic, "Trump Says There's 'No Such Thing As Obamacare Anymore' One Month Before Enrollment Starts," Huffington Post, 2017-OCT-16, at: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  3. Jonathan Cohn, "Trump’s Latest Health Care Move Will Cause Pain, But Not For The Poor," Huffington Post, 2017-OCT-16, at: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  4. Dan Mangan, "Obamacare bombshell: Trump kills key payments to health insurers," CNBC, 2017-OCT-12, at: https://www.cnbc.com/
  5. "Kaiser Health Tracking Poll - June 2017: ACA, Replacement Plan, and Medicaid," Kaiser Family Foundation, 2017-JUN, at: https://www.kff.org/
  6. Alison Kodjak & Susan Davis, "Trump Administration Move Imperils Pre-Existing Condition Protections," NPR/KPCC-FM Pasadena, CA, 2018-JUN-08, at: https://www.scpr.org/
  7. , " 'You’ve handed us an issue:' Democrats pounce on Trump administration’s health-care move," Washington Post, 2018-JUN-08, at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/
  8. "List of Countries with Universal Healthcare," True Cost Blog, 2013-JAN-21, at: https://truecostblog.com/
  9. "How does Canada’s health spending compare internationally?," Canadian Institute for Health Information, 2018, at: https://www.cihi.ca/
  10. "Leftist Democrats pushing 'Medicare for All' election theme," One News Now, 2018-JUL-20, at: https://www.onenewsnow.com/
  11. Megan Brenan, "Approval of the Affordable Care Act Falls Back Below 50% ," Gallup, 2018-NOV-30, at: https://news.gallup.com/
  12. "One in Four U.S. Adults Say They Have a Pre-Existing Condition," Gallup, 2018-DEC-05, at: https://news.gallup.com/

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Copyright 2017 and 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted on: 2018-JUL-30
Latest update: 2018-DEC-17
Author: B.A. Robinson
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