The Trump administration's announcement that it is slashing the Affordable Care Act advertising budget by a whopping 90% is the kind of move that wins support from his ignorant base, but results in people dying and health care costs going up for everyone else. Reported Vox:
Donald Trump will reduce Obamacare advertising spending 90 percent, from the $100 million that the Obama administration spent last year to $10 million this year. It will also cut the budget for the in-person enrollment program by 39 percent.
Administration officials cited “diminishing returns” from outreach activities. In a phone call with reporters, they said that most Americans already know about the Affordable Care Act. They plan to make the deepest cuts to the enrollment workers who have signed up few health law enrollees.
Regardless of whether Trump and his administration likes Obamacare, it is the law of the land and the only system in place that can keep health care costs down for Americans and drive down rates of people without insurance. Obamacare works when people buy into it -- the more Americans who sign up, the cheaper it gets as insurance companies offset losses from high risk patients from healthier, younger individuals who spend less on their health. So getting people to sign up to it is an absolute necessity, and the the funds allocated for advertising were an important way of getting out the word. Without knowledge of the ACA exchanges, people simply won't sign up for coverage, creating an increase in prices for everyone else. It is that simple.
Trump's move to slash the advertising budget is simply a cruel way of undermining President Obama's signature piece of legislation. It is designed solely to help it fail, no matter the human toll.
Earlier this year, Trump threatened not to pay the federal subsidies for Obamacare in order to help facilitate its collapse -- a move that would have created immense hardship and suffering. Reported the NYTimes:
Premiums for the most popular health insurance plans would shoot up 20 percent next year, and federal budget deficits would increase by $194 billion in the coming decade, if President Trump carried out his threat to end certain subsidies paid to insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.
The subsidies reimburse insurers for reducing deductibles, co-payments and other out-of-pocket costs that low-income people pay when they visit doctors, fill prescriptions or receive care in hospitals.
Even before efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act collapsed in the Senate last month, Mr. Trump began threatening to stop paying the subsidies, known as cost-sharing reductions. He said the health care law would “implode” and Democrats would have no choice but to negotiate a replacement plan. Mr. Trump described his strategy as, “Let Obamacare implode, then deal.”
Trump's move to end the ad budget for Obamacare is the kind of petty nonsense we've come to expect from the president. He knows he can't stop paying the federal subsidies given the political cost, but he can undermine it in other ways that give him political capital with his base who evidently do not understand how Obamacare actually works. Ending the ad budget isn't catastrophic for Obamacare, but it will hurt it. And as a consequence, it will hurt those who don't have insurance and those who can barely afford it.
Does this president have any shame?
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