President Donald Trump continued a furious tweet storm Monday by again raising the specter he will cut off billions of dollars for the Affordable Care Act, which he said he will teach insurance companies and Congress a lesson.
Trump started the barrage Saturday, days after the Senate failed to pass a repeal and replace bill: “If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!”
Trouble is, the people who will really feel the damage are consumers if Trump or Congress kill “cost sharing” subsidies, The Palm Beach Post reported. A 20 percent premium increase is likely to result if Trump withholds an estimated $10 billion in such subsidies to cover co-pays and deductibles for 2018, the state’s biggest health insurer Florida Blue warned. More than 1 million Floridians get subsidies of various kinds to lower costs.
Florida Democrats have called that “deliberate sabotage.” Who loses? Low-income consumers are cushioned somewhat by other subsidies that adjust, but middle-income people feel the full impact of overall premium increases. And if insurers simply walk away from ACA exchanges, that reduces choice and drives up costs for everyone in the market, analysts say.
If cost-sharing payments disappear, Trump will be responsible for “the destabilization of the marketplace and the deliberate sabotage of our neighbors’ health and financial well-being,” Florida’s Democratic delegation told the president in a June 8 letter. Signing members included U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, and Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton.
OK, but at least taxpayers save some money, right? Actually, it represents a net increase of $2.3 billion in costs to taxpayers, the Kaiser Family Foundation calculated, because it drives up costs for another form of subsidy to keep premiums affordable, the Post reported.
There is no evidence Trump has been moved by such arguments.
“If ObamaCare is hurting people, & it is, why shouldn’t it hurt the insurance companies & why should Congress not be paying what public pays?” Trump tweeted Monday.
In addition to “cost sharing” subsidies, Trump is believed to be talking about cutting off employer contributions to members of Congress on their own health plans.
As political rhetoric, threatening to yank affordable health insurance from Congress might play reasonably well in some quarters, if not exactly win friends on the Hill. Handing a higher bill to ordinary folks? That may be harder to sell.