President Trump has shown essentially no real interest in providing Americans health care and has so far been unable to wrangle a Republican congress, which has for years proven similarly disinterested in Americans’ ability to go to the doctor, into jettisoning the Affordable Care Act in favor of something else they haven’t thought of yet. Because, shockingly, it proved treacherous political terrain to yank what coverage, however imperfect, that has been extended to millions of Americans by Obamacare, the Trump administration is now in the midst of its new, not-so-subtle health care legislative strategy: sabotage Obamacare.
Trump has talked approvingly about letting Obamacare “implode” (or more bizarrely “explode”) so the leader of the country can somehow try to pin the program’s failure on his political enemies, rather than the people that currently control nearly every lever of federal decision-making power and most of the state levers too. One of the more egregious subterfuge options has been potentially cutting off government subsidies to insurers, known as cost-sharing reduction payments, that help keep individuals’ costs down. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has floated ditching the individual mandate that requires Americans to buy coverage. Why? Because freedom.
Those are pretty big, disruptive changes to the current health care market and yanking such a structurally important Jenga piece and watching America’s health insurance system crash might look to the American people kinda like your bad if you’re the president who’s standing over the rubble delicately holding the fateful rectangular block between your thumb and index finger. So to avoid that and any other form of responsibility: something quieter.
Like what? Let’s do less to make sure Americans find their health care options and harder for those who need help to navigate the process once they have. The enrollment period has already been slashed in half from previous years and will now run for just six weeks from November 1 through December 15.
From the Associated Press:
Advertising will be cut from $100 million spent on 2017 sign-ups to $10 million, said Health and Human Services officials.
Funding for consumer helpers called “navigators” will also be cut about 40 percent, from $62.5 million for 2017, to $36.8 million for next year.
“Advertising and outreach, however, are seen as critical to maintaining and boosting Obamacare enrollment,” according to CNN. “In fact, a bipartisan coalition of governors—led by Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio and Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado—on Wednesday urged the administration to continue to fund outreach and enrollment efforts… Outreach is considered critical in the final days of the enrollment period to remind consumers—particularly younger ones—of the deadline. Sign ups typically surge during this time.”