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Horowitz: Obamacare Still Standing Despite Trump’s Best Efforts

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


Despite the Trump Administration’s continued best efforts to undermine Obamacare, the landmark law is still by and large working, providing affordable and quality health insurance for millions of Americans who otherwise would be uninsured. 

The health insurance markets created by Obamacare have stabilized and more insurers are now coming into the market. This is despite Congress at President Trump's urging doing away with the individual mandate as well as various executive actions aimed at gutting the law.

And Obamacare is growing in popularity. Fifty-four percent of Americans now have a favorable view of the law, while 42% express an unfavorable view, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation Poll. This is the highest favorable rating recorded for the Affordable Care Act since Kaiser began to measure it in 2010.

But the failure of the Trump Administration’s efforts to date has not served as a deterrent.  They continue unabated despite the fact that each one of these actions are aimed at making health care less affordable and less available for many Americans. This is apparently a price the Trump Administration is more than willing to pay in their reckless effort to destroy Obamacare without ever offering any kind of substantive replacement.

This past weekend President Trump suspended billions of dollars in so-called risk adjustment payments to insurers, which provide incentives to not cherry pick and cover more sickly patients. The excuse was a ruling in one court case which could have been remedied by much less drastic action. ( A different federal district court has actually upheld the current formula.)

“Any action to stop disbursements under the risk adjustment program will significantly increase 2019 premiums for millions of individuals and small-business owners, and could result in far fewer health plan choices,” said Justine G. Handelman, a senior vice president of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association as quoted by The New York Times.

The Trump Administration is also refusing to defend from an ongoing court challenge the provision of Obamacare that requires insurance companies provide coverage to people with preexisting conditions. This provision-which is overwhelmingly popular-is likely to be upheld anyway. But this shows the lengths the Trump Administration is willing to go to kill the law.

The best course of action for the Trump Administration, both politically and substantively, remains seeking incremental legislation to put in place the fixes that would make Obamacare work better. But given their stubborn and ill-advised actions to date. I hold out little hope for a change in approach. Unfortunately, President Trump has made it all too clear that killing Obamacare is a far higher priority for him than ensuring all Americans have access to affordable quality healthcare.


Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island. 


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