I’m sorry to keep harping on this, but the Trump administration is still doing what it can to damage the Affordable Care Act at a major cost to people who need health insurance, and so far the news media have said little about that in comparison with the wall-to-wall coverage of (fortunately unsuccessful) Republican efforts in Congress to “repeal and replace.”
Editor emeritus Charlie Peters at The Washington Monthly has often complained that the Washington media focus on Congress and the White House and ignore what’s actually going on in the great bulk of government, which probably helps explain the relative lack of attention to the administration’s Obamacare sabotage.
In fairness, there has been coverage, just not as much as we might hope. Back in July, for example The New York Times published an article (updated last week) entitled “4 Ways Trump Is Weakening Obamacare, Even After Repeal Plan’s Failure.”
The annual enrollment period to sign up for individual coverage is being cut in half this year, and the already modest budget for letting people know about this and other matters is being slashed by 90 percent. There’s still a chance Trump may follow through on his threat to withhold legally required “cost sharing reduction” payments, creating uncertainty in the insurance industry and forcing them to raise rates, though even conservative members of Congress have opposed him on this.
This morning Kevin Drum asked in a blog post, “Why Is Trump’s Scorched-Earth Campaign to Destroy Obamacare Getting So Little Attention?” and referencing a blog post yesterday by Andrew Sprung. Sprung points out in passing that the administration is also hurting Medicaid. But as Sprung says, things could still be much worse.
CBO’s updated projections for the ACA marketplace are reduced from past years, but CBO forecasts a stable marketplace at more-or-less current levels. Net, CBO forecasts 3 million more uninsured by 2026 than it forecast last year, pre-Trump, pre-sabotage The individual market core is insulated by the subsidy structure, though sabotage with its attendant rate hikes and curtailed participation by insurers hurts upwards of ten million subsidy-ineligible people. Trump’s threatened executive order could further intensify adverse selection in the marketplace — but again, roughly ten million subsidy-eligible enrollees would be insulated.
That justifies hope but not ignoring what’s going on. As I mentioned a month ago, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that by 78 to 17 percent, people want the administration to do what they can to make the Affordable Care Act work rather than try to make it fail. Even among Trump supporters, 51 to 39 want them to try to make it work. A lot of people would presumably be disturbed to learn what’s going on but aren’t hearing enough about it. There’s more about this in my post from August 14.