After repeated repeal attempts failed to make it through Congress, President Trump took it in his own hands to dismantle key aspects of the healthcare system. First up: an executive order he signed that allows people to group together and buy health insurance across state lines. This order may allow these associations to buy alternative health coverage that may not include coverage of essential health benefits, like maternity care, mental health care, or preventative treatments.
Then, late last night, the administration announced a decision to stop all subsidies that help make health insurance more affordable for low-income to middle-income Americans—$7 billion annually that helps more than 7 million Americans afford coverage. And those payments will be stopped immediately, putting insurance coverage for next year in jeopardy.
Many experts believe that both steps will severely damage the healthcare system, making healthcare less affordable for millions of Americans. By allowing these associations to purchase cheaper health insurance with less coverage, they may siphon off younger and healthier people who are attracted by the cheaper price tag, leading to huge spikes in health insurance costs for those who are part of the standard pool (who will likely be older people who need coverage for health conditions). And without the subsidies, experts expect more health insurers to abandon the state marketplaces—and those that remain will pass on the cost previously covered by the subsidy to those who buy coverage, likely making it out of reach for many working-class families.
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have come out against the plan, saying it could take healthcare away from their constituents. A joint statement from Democratic Congressional leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi described the damage these moves create. “It is a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America,” they said. “Make no mistake about it, Trump will try to blame the Affordable Care Act, but this will fall on his back and he will pay the price for it.”
Many healthcare organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have come out against these healthcare changes. The AAP says they "are alarmed by the President's decision to abruptly take away financial support that aids low-income families in purchasing health care coverage. This decision is not consistent with the Administration's pledge to provide individuals and families with more options to secure affordable health care coverage. A failure to address this matter will result in dramatic, if not catastrophic, increases in premiums across the country – resulting in millions of people either losing their health care coverage due to either insurer departures from the market or their inability to afford coverage."
It appears Trump is hoping that this move will get both parties of Congress to work together to "fix" healthcare, as evidenced by his tweet this a.m.:
But as the Washington Post noted in their headline, he's doing that by throwing a bomb into the healthcare system. And the damage could be a matter of life or death for many American families.