Donald Trump and his party have never been able to figure out a viable alternative to Obamacare. Having failed to repeal and replace the law, they have set out to wreck it. The Trump administration is taking two steps to accomplish this goal. First, it is opening two loopholes to allow healthy people to purchase unregulated insurance, splitting the market and loading more costs onto people with expensive medical needs. Second, it announced tonight it is ending cost-sharing payments to insurers who take on low-income customers.
Both these changes are designed to put pressure on insurers, increasing premiums by an average of 19 percent, and even splitting up the individual insurance markets. Whether they will succeed is yet to be seen. States committed to making Obamacare work will find solutions that keep their markets intact. (Indeed, there has been a marked difference in the premium levels of states that are trying to help cover their citizens and those that aren’t.)
What’s more, by withholding payments promised in law, the administration is exposing itself to a lawsuit it could very well lose. (New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has already announced his intention to sue.) Premiums are going to rise in the meantime, because insurers are subjected to greater uncertainty and the now-demonstrated knowledge that the administration is deliberately sabotaging the law they are operating under.
I’ll have a longer piece about this, but losing (or “losing”) elections has bad consequences and this is one of them.