It’s no secret that Donald Trump and his administration have been playing politics with the Affordable Care Act, trying to kill it by the death by a thousand cuts:
- They won’t commit to the cost sharing reductions to help stabilize the markets, forcing many if not most insurers to raise their premiums.
- They decreased the budget for healthcare “navigators” who help people choose a health insurance plant that’s right for them and their budget.
- They have cut marketing & education costs to let people know about the open enrollment period that is soon upon us.
- And they have shortened the enrollment period itself by a full month and a half to half of what it has been for the past four years since Obamacare became law.
None of this was particularly subtle but it wasn’t quite as blatant as the most recent insult, the most recent act of shameless sabotage. During the enrollment period of November 1st through December 15th, Healthcare.gov, the federal site for the Obamacare health insurance exchanges, will be shut down for 12 hours each week between 12 a.m. until 12 p.m. on every Sunday except December 10th. That’s 6% downtime during the shortened enrollment period. By way of comparison, Healthcare.gov had a 99.9% uptime rate during the previous two enrollment periods. That means the site will be down 60 times as long this year.
For people who work all week and have only their weekends to shop for health insurance on the exchanges, this means a full quarter of the time they have sign up for health insurance through the federal exchanges has been taken away.
This is the most blatant effort by the petulant president and his administration so far to sabotage what can only be described as a life saving social safety net for millions of Americans. It’s clear that Trump and his team are frustrated and angry that their signature campaign promise to “repeal Obamacare on Day One” facing defeat after defeat after defeat has turned them into vengeful, spiteful mob, lashing out. As a result, millions of innocent Americans will pay the price for their tantrum. As Elizabeth Hagan, associate director of coverage initiatives for Families USA told PBS, “There’s a clear pattern of the administration trying to undermine and sabotage the Affordable Care Act. It’s not letting the law fail, it’s making the law fail.”
Michigan Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Congressman John Conyers (MI-13), Congressman Sander Levin (MI-09), Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (MI-14) issued the following joint statement about the ongoing open sabotage of the ACA:
It is unfortunate that President Trump’s actions are pushing health insurance premiums higher in Michigan. By threatening cost-sharing payments that help to lower premiums for Michigan families, the President is actively undermining our health care system and causing instability in the marketplace. President Trump’s premium increases will affect hundreds of thousands of Michiganders, who in some cases may see nearly 60 percent year-over-year increases in the cost of premiums.
As Democrats, we are ready and willing to work with Republicans to lower the costs of health care and prescription drugs. Republicans must drop their efforts to repeal the law and instead come back to the table to find bipartisan improvements to our health care system.
This, of course, will NOT happen. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, another petulant Republican frustrated that he hasn’t been able to successfully deny health insurance to millions of Americans, will NEVER let a bipartisan plan to improve the ACA come to a vote in the Senate. In fact, I predict that, once the September 30th deadline expires for the current budget reconciliation rules which allow a simple majority to pass Trumpcare, they will simply write new rules and start the process over again next year. This only adds to the uncertainty for insurance companies which will drive costs even higher, exactly as Republicans planned and yet another way to sabotage the ACA.
If you’re resisting and persisting, please gird your loins for the coming battles because we will need to continue our fight until Democrats regain control of Congress and more. Republicans have proven their shamelessness and only complete and utter defeat at the ballot box will stop them.