It took 4 hours to coax Patricia Okoumou, a Congolese immigrant, down from the Statue of Liberty while wearing a t-shirt that said, “Trumpcare Makes Us Sick.” It was serendipitous timing. She was part of a group wanting the abolition of ICE, but her t-shirt also brought attention to Republican and Trump administration’s efforts to abolish Obamacare, when a just released HHS report states that Obamacare is doing better than ever for those in most need of health insurance.
President Trump has to be aware that most Americans want to keep Obamacare, even with the latest Republican tax cut bill that also abolishes the Obamacare mandate in 2019 requiring Americans not covered to pay a penalty if they have no health care coverage. The result has been higher premiums for those above the federal poverty level not subsidized by the federal government.
The reason Obamacare is popular with a majority of Americans is that the alternative Trumpcare bills attempted by Republicans last year wouldn’t just make Americans sicker, they will kill more people. Approximately 17,000 people could have died if a House Republican health proposal endorsed by the Trump administration had become law in 2018, who otherwise would have lived. By 2026, the number of people killed by Trumpcare could have grown to approximately 29,000 in that year alone, according to ThinkProgress, progressive think tank. It is backed up by a CBO estimate that 24 million more Americans could lose health insurance by 2026 under Trumpcare.
Trump’s assertion that he has “gutted” Obamacare in his attempt to sicken and kill more Americans simply isn’t true. In fact, those in most need of health care coverage, those earning less than the federal poverty line, $48,500 for an individual, and $100,400 for a family of four, are doing quite well, according to the latest assessment from the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services that administers Obamacare.
Overall, according to the figures released by the agency, 10.6 million Americans had signed up for ACA coverage by February and paid their first month’s premium, according to the Los Angeles Times. That was about 3 percent ahead of the 10.3-million enrollment at the same moment in 2017, the agency said.
Unsubsidized customers responded to the challenge of higher premiums by abandoning their health coverage in droves, HHS reported. The trend began in 2017, after Trump’s inauguration. That year, subsidized enrollments fell by about 223,000, or 3 percent. But unsubsidized enrollments fell by 1.3 million, or 20 percent.
This is while subsidized enrollment (those receiving Advanced Premium Tax Credits, or APTC) was 23 percent larger than unsubsidized (non-APTC) in 2014 and 32 percent larger in 2016 — and reached 61 percent in 2017.
Trump’s answer to the premium increases caused by his own policies has been to undercut the law even further by eliminating the consumer protections that make health insurance worth buying. These include requirements that all policies cover essential health benefits such as maternity care, hospitalization and prescription drugs, and opening the marketplace further to short-term junk insurance that carries lower premiums but offers substandard coverage.
We are not even mentioning Trump’s efforts to abolish the exemption for existing illnesses, and take away the federal payments meant to subsidize states’ Medicaid programs, which will result in even higher health insurance premiums for everyone.
So who are those President Trump and his Republican synchophants really killing with their heartlessness? Those now above the poverty line—the increasing number of unsubsidized in the middle class. And they can and will vote, on what has become the number one issue for voters in November.
A new Pew Research Center survey reports 60 percent of Americans say the government should be responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans, compared with 38 percent who say this should not be the government’s responsibility. The share saying it is the government’s responsibility has increased from 51 percent last year and now stands at its highest point in nearly a decade.
So, Trump and your Republican supporters of big business, please go right ahead and keep up your efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare if you want to become irrelevant. Voters in November will know what this means.
Harlan Green © 2018
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