Obamacare survived the first year of President Donald Trump, but it’s badly damaged.
The sweeping Republican tax bill on the verge of final passage would repeal the individual mandate in 2019, potentially taking millions of people out of the health insurance market. On top of that, the Trump administration has killed some subsidies, halved the insurance enrollment period, gutted the Obamacare marketing campaign, and rolled out a regulatory red carpet for skimpy new health plans that will change the insurance landscape in ways that are harmful to former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
None of these individually represent a death blow. But in aggregate, the past year adds up to a slow, stealthy erosion of the law.
President Donald Trump’s bold threat to push “Obamacare” into collapse may get harder to carry out after a new court ruling.
The procedural decision late Tuesday by a federal appeals panel in Washington has implications for millions of consumers. The judges said that a group of states can defend the legality of government “cost-sharing” subsidies for copays and deductibles under the Affordable Care Act if the Trump administration decides to stop paying the money.
President Trump summoned Republican leaders to the White House on Tuesday to discuss his summer legislative agenda, but progress is being stalled by the GOP’s inability to fulfill its long promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Lacking a consensus over how to gut the Affordable Care Act without leaving millions more Americans uninsured — as the House GOP’s bill would do — Senate Republicans now face a legislative logjam that could imperil other priorities, such as tax reform and infrastructure.
With concerns rising over the future of financial aid for low-income Americans who rely on Obamacare, senior congressional Democrats have asked the Trump administration for information on talks in which health insurance officials say a senior administration official linked the aid to the industry’s support for House Republican legislation to roll back the healthcare law.
The talks, first reported by The Times last week, occurred in April when a group of industry leaders met with Seema Verma, a President Trump appointee who heads the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and oversees Obamacare insurance markets.
On the day the House Republican leadership pulled the plug on its plan to replace Obamacare, President Trump initially responded by saying that the best political move might be to just step back and let the law “explode.”
“It is exploding right now,” he said.
The coming weeks will reveal just how much the president is willing to step forward and nudge the law into collapse. While health care experts disagree on how fragile the Affordable Care Act is on its own, they agree that Mr. Trump has the power to hasten its demise.