CNN published a list of the “57 most outlandish, outrageous and offensive” statements made by Donald Trump at his Michigan rally the other night. Within the compendium of lies, insults, and delusions was this gem:
“We are getting rid of Obamacare. Some people would say that we have essentially gotten rid of it.”
While most people would see this as a pathetic attempt at spinning the reality behind the most significant failure of the first year of the Trump administration — the defeat of a Republican-drafted health care bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with a more expensive substitute that covered millions fewer people — there was sadly a hint of truth in Trump’s claim to be in the process of destroying one of the signature legislative accomplishments of the Obama era.
Tom Price, the former Secretary of Health and Human Services in the halcyon days of the Trump administration before he became the first (and hopefully not the last) Trump cabinet member to resign over excessive spending on first class travel, reminded the audience at the World Health Care Conference in Washington that the Republicans had managed to destroy at least one aspect of Obamacare.
According to an article in The Washington Post, Price said the Republican tax law, the one major piece of legislation that the GOP-controlled congress did manage to slip pass the majority of Americans who opposed it, would raise the cost of health insurance for many Americans because of the repeal of the individual mandate that it included.
With the mandate, which required Americans to obtain health coverage or face a stiff financial penalty now gone, people buying insurance on government-run marketplaces will face higher prices, the former Health Secretary said.
“There are many, and I’m one of them, who believes that that actually will harm the pool in the exchange market, because you’ll likely have individuals who are younger and healthier not participating in that market, and consequently that drives up the cost for other folks within that market,” Price said at conference.
Price’s remarks don’t point to a result that was unexpected while the debate over the disastrous GOP health care bill was ongoing.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected last November that 13 million fewer Americans would have health insurance by 2027 as a result of the elimination of the individual mandate. The CBO also predicted that average premiums on the exchanges would rise by about 10 percent each year over the next decade if the mandate was repealed.
“Those effects would occur mainly because healthier people would be less likely to obtain insurance and because, especially in the nongroup market, the resulting increases in premiums would cause more people to not purchase insurance,” the CBO said in their November report.
Despite the warning from the CBO and nearly universal opposition from Democrats, Republicans (including Price at the time) continued to insist that the mandate forced people to buy coverage that they neither desired nor needed, and, ignoring the fact that shared risk is the underlying principle of all insurance, included the repeal of the mandate as part of their equally unpopular tax giveaway to billionaires.
“The individual mandate is one of those things that is actually driving up the cost for the American people in terms of coverage,” Price said on ABC’s “This Week” last summer. “So what we’re trying to do is make it so that Obamacare is no longer harming the patients of this land — no longer driving up costs, no longer making it so that they’ve got coverage but no care.”
While no one with any level of intelligence is seriously still waiting for the trickle down effect of those massive tax reductions on the ultra-wealthy and corporations to miraculously show up in their own bank accounts, the effects of the repeal of the requirement that everyone sign up for health insurance will be hitting their wallets as soon as insurance companies set their rates for 2019.
Unfortunately, it will hit them again every subsequent year, causing more people to decide that they can’t afford to buy it, placing Obamacare in the death spiral that was part of the Republicans’ plan all along.
All of which goes to show why the United States needs to enact a single-payer healthcare system like every other civilized nation in the modern world. Of course, in order to do that we first have to use the November midterm elections to vote out every single Republican legislator who helped pass the heinous tax cut that included the mandate’s repeal.
Your move, citizens.
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