Not long after the
It was a scene reminiscent of the photo opportunities arranged by
That's a legitimate complaint, and Congress certainly should address it. But high premiums are not the only issue for policymakers as they work to make the healthcare system more efficient and affordable for all Americans. And what Trump apparently didn't tell his visitors was that the House GOP bill that he's pushing wouldn't solve their problems. It might even make them worse.
That’s because the bill (dubbed the
For healthy people who don't need insurance, the House bill may look like a godsend. They would no longer face annual penalties for going uninsured; instead, they'd just have to pay a 30% surcharge for a year once they needed treatment and signed up for a policy. Sweet deal! And astronomical deductibles and co-payments would be no problem as long as they limited their doctor visits to the co-pay-free annual check-up.
But the group assembled by Trump included a number of people who actually do need care. For example, there was the Colorado rancher with an autistic son, the Texas doctor whose wife is a
In other words, the House bill doesn't try to fix the problems on display in some states' Obamacare markets — the higher-than-expected healthcare costs and the smaller-than-expected number of healthy people enrolled — that have led to higher premiums and fewer insurers offering policies. Instead, it would tell insurers to go back to what they did before the 2010 law took effect: Design policies to appeal to the young and healthy, while setting prices for truly comprehensive plans so high that sicker and riskier customers can't afford them.
It also would shift federal subsidies and pricing rules to help younger and better-off consumers while putting coverage out of reach for millions of lower-income Americans. It would be particularly hard on low-wage workers whom the 2010 law made eligible for
And to think Republicans called President Obama divisive. The House leadership proposal is a cynical exercise in splitting the interests of the healthy from those who need treatment, and the middle and upper classes from the poor.
The CBO report projected that 14 million additional people would go without insurance in 2018 — some by choice, but many because they could no longer afford it — if the American Health Care Act became law, with the number rising to 24 million in 2026. That's more people than you'll find in Idaho, Wyoming, the Dakotas, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia, Delaware, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Alaska and Hawaii … combined.
"If we're allowed to do what we want to do," Trump told his guests Monday, "it will get better. Much better." He didn't say for whom.
Of course, had Republicans not worked actively to undermine Obamacare — rejecting a government-run fallback insurance plan, reneging on pledges to help insurers cover their losses in the program's first few years, refusing to expand Medicaid in almost half the states, impeding efforts to sign up people for coverage — the problems aired at the White House Monday might never have emerged. They did, and Congress should address them. But that means actually slowing the growth of healthcare costs and helping more people afford the coverage they need, neither of which the House proposal even attempts to do.
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