Annoyed by the inability of Republicans to pass a health care bill, Trump took matters into his own hands and removed key funding for the Affordable Care Act. That move is estimated to raise premiums by 20 percent as early as next year, and is going to hit an already-unstable market hard, likely causing more insurers to pull out and further limiting choice. Meanwhile, he has allowed special new markets to be created where certain ObamaCare protections, such as those for preexisting conditions, are not required.
The damage does not stop there. In overwhelming numbers, Americans say they want ObamaCare kept and fixed, not repealed or sabotaged. A new poll shows that a full two-thirds of Americans want to keep the law. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) were working on, among other things, a short-term fix to stabilize the insurance markets, but Trump has now come out against those efforts, saying he will refuse to sign any bipartisan fix for ObamaCare and insurance markets unless he gets his way.
His bumbling leadership failure may also result in a government shutdown, according to Reuters:
‘By antagonizing Democrats who support Obamacare, Trump’s actions could also lead to political turmoil over spending in December, when Republicans hope to put the final touches on a sweeping tax reform bill.
‘“He wants to negotiate the healthcare bill by repealing the Affordable Care Act and building a wall? No,” Pelosi said.
‘“The Republicans have the majority. They have the signature of the president. It’s up to them to keep government open.”’
‘But some moderate Republicans, as well as GOP governors who support the ACA, view those payments as critical and contend that without them, millions would lose insurance and that those who do not would pay significantly more for coverage.
‘“What the president is doing is affecting the ability of vulnerable people to receive health care right now. This is not a bailout of the insurers. What this money is used for is to help low-income people afford their deductibles and their co-pays so that their health care is available to them,” said Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), one of three Republican senators to vote against the July ACA repeal effort.
‘“These certainly are very disruptive moves that will result in smaller numbers of people being insured, that will make it more difficult for low-income people to afford their out-of-pocket costs, and that will destabilize the insurance market,” she said.’
Trump, and Republicans who support him, are attempting to characterize this as stopping a “bailout” for corporate insurance companies. That’s like saying that cutting food stamps is ending a “bailout” for grocers. Poor people no longer being able to afford insurance will result in less money for insurance companies, yes. The insurance companies will then pass the higher cost onto those who can afford insurance, raising premiums.
‘Democrats vowed to use year-end negotiations on the federal agency budgets as a leverage point to reinstate the payments, promising to pin the political blame on Republicans if premiums skyrocket next year.
‘“This is the equivalent of health-care arson. He is literally setting the entire health-care system on fire just because the president is upset that the United States Congress won’t pass a repeal bill,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said on “Fox News Sunday.”’
When it comes down to it, that’s really what this is about. Vindictiveness, and anger at not getting his way. Donald Trump is no expert negotiator – this is a massive failure in leadership. He has worsened the state of relations between Democrats and Republicans, who were already working on a bipartisan solution. He’s done so in order to make himself feel powerful and relevant, despite the fact that undermining these negotiations may result in a government shutdown, which will cost billions.
All of this goes against the will of the American people, who, again, overwhelmingly support the bipartisan negotiation of a fix for the Affordable Care Act. Trump plays with lives and goes out of his way to destroy basic government functions, all to feed his ego.
The only point Chris Murphy may have got wrong in the quote above is that Trump’s vindictiveness goes deeper than just being upset about the failure of the bills he sponsored. From POLITICO:
‘“The president has said pretty clearly that he’s willing to talk to just about anybody about repealing and replacing [Obamacare],” Mulvaney continued. “But if the straight-up question is: Is the president interested in continuing what he sees as corporate welfare and bailouts for the insurance companies? No.”’
For Trump, it’s less about the law itself than it is about the name on it and who got credit for it. If Republicans repealed ObamaCare, and replaced it with a word-for-word identical law called TrumpCare, Trump would brag about it every single day of his life. He’d make up stories about people he’d saved because even reality would not be enough. He’d refuse to admit any degree of fault with it, ever, and externalize all blame for any perceived imperfection.
Trump is the Republican Party, distilled. And they own this:
Featured image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images