Obamacare isn’t Dying, Truth is

By Jeff Kirkpatrick

 

Trump is a pathological liar. He always has been. But now, he’s a pathological liar with power [1], occupying what was formerly regarded as the most powerful position in the world (before he was elected).Trump has been saying for a long time that Obamacare is dying, that it’s in a “death spiral”[2]. Today, Trump said, “Obamacare is dying, it’s essentially dead.” That’s just a variation of the same old shit he’s been spewing for over a year along with the sociopaths who cringe at the idea that healthcare is a human right.

Obamacare isn’t exploding; Obamacare isn’t dying – even the CBO report confirmed that. None of those assertions that Trump and other Republicans have been saying about Obamacare are true. But now that he’s in power, he and his minions are doing their best to make it become true. A number of journalists have reported what actions and decisions Republicans have done that contribute to the problems that the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) already had. They are intentionally causing problems and making existing flaws in the ACA worse. Listed below are highlights from some of those publications by hard-working journalists.

The point is that they are doing everything they can to kill the Affordable Care Act so the Republicans can swoop in and “save the day” with the “The Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” or whatever Orwellian name they give it in the end. Better for billionaires, but extremely bad for everyone else.

From Trump on down, the current administration is infested with lies and the lying liars who tell them. It’s just one fucking lie after another, and just like any authoritarian government, the effort to discredit all media as fake was highlighted by White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee the other day. All stories about “Russian collusion are fake” she stated, without even hesitating. To be clear, discrediting all media outlets and supplanting them with their own propaganda promoting platforms is one of the first actions taken by all tyrannical governments [3].

This is not to say that the media doesn’t have its failures – it most definitely does [4]. But every time a Trump devotee lies and says Obamacare is dying, journalists MUST point out the facts surrounding this false claim (see below). While, it cannot be ignored that even before Trump was elected, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) had problems that needed to be fixed, it must be pointed out what Trump has done to exacerbate, not fix, those problems. Trump and the Republican Congress do not want to fix the Affordable Care Act. They want to kill Obamacare completely and replace it with a hideous tax cut for the rich. We’ve already seen what their idea of “healthcare” is and it has nothing to do with making sure all Americans have affordable healthcare. That is another propaganda lie from the pit of snakes in the Trump administration swamp.

Obamacare is not dead. But truth is in a death spiral.


 

Is Trump Sabotaging Obamacare?” by Michael Grunwald, POLITICO Magazine; March 14, 2017

Excerpt: President Donald Trump often blasts Obamacare as a total disaster, a pathetic failure doomed to implode. But sometimes he adds a twist, suggesting that instead of trying to fix the situation, Republicans would be smarter to exploit the situation. “Let it be a disaster, because we can blame that on the Democrats,” Trump mused to the National Governors Association on February 27. “Let it implode, then let it implode in 2018 even worse … Politically, it would be a great solution.”

Trump has made similar remarks on Twitter, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, in an Oval Office meeting last week with conservative activists, and at a Roosevelt Room event on Monday with Americans who don’t like Obamacare. He keeps emphasizing that Republicans are “putting themselves in a very bad position” by pushing a controversial repeal bill, when they could easily let Obamacare collapse and let Democrats take the blame. He’s been saying this kind of thing so often that it’s worth asking whether he’s taking his own advice, trying to sabotage Obamacare for political reasons.

 

What Does Trump’s Executive Order against Obamacare Actually Do?” by Margot Sanger-Katz, New York Times, January 21, 2017

Excerpt: The easiest way for the Trump administration to undermine the health law would be to stop defending a lawsuit brought by the House of Representatives. That suit said that the Obama administration lacked the authority to pay certain Obamacare subsidies. A lower court ruled for the House, meaning that by simply withdrawing from the appeal, the Trump administration could start a process to eliminate those subsidies and cause a collapse of the insurance market. Mr. Trump’s order said nothing about that policy choice.

 

Trump couldn’t kill Obamacare but will he sabotage it?” by Dave Ross, My Northwest; March 27, 2017

Excerpt: On inauguration day, he signed an order directing agencies to “minimize” the “burdens” of Obamacare. And the IRS took him at his word. Originally, the IRS was going to play hardball – and flat-out reject the tax returns of uninsured people who didn’t either pay the tax penalty or claim a hardship exemption. But thanks to the president’s order, the IRS now says returns will still be accepted, even with that part left blank. That means a lot of healthy people won’t buy insurance – which begins the death spiral.

 

No, Obamacare Isn’t Exploding. But Trump Could Still Blow It Up,” by Patrick Caldwell, Mother Jones; March 28, 2017

Excerpt: The idea that Obamacare is in a death spiral was central to Republican efforts to destroy the law. They point to rising premiums for individuals on Healthcare.gov and insurers fleeing some markets. Thirty-two percent of counties now have only one insurance provider, up from 7 percent of counties in 2016.

But the truth is more complicated than the GOP wants you to believe. Yes, in some states there are problems with the individual insurance marketplaces created by the law. But those problems don’t exist everywhere in the country, and experts expect even the problematic markets to stabilize. That isn’t to say Obamacare is completely out of the woods, and perhaps the biggest danger facing the law comes from Trump himself. There are plenty of ways the administration could use its regulatory power to blow up the program – more on that below…

According to the Congressional Budget Office, when it scored the GOP’s repeal plan, Obamacare’s individual markets should remain stable going forward: “The subsidies to purchase coverage combined with the penalties paid by uninsured people stemming from the individual mandate are anticipated to cause sufficient demand for insurance by people with low health care expenditures for the market to be stable.”*

[*] Note: that CBO report refers to the healthcare plan introduced in the House of Representatives which did not come up for a vote due to lack of support; it can be found HERE.

Moreover, the problems are not equally distributed across the country. One major reason appears to relate to Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid. The ACA pushed states to enroll everyone below 138 percent of the federal poverty line into Medicaid, which is separate from the individual insurance marketplaces. The federal government pays for the vast majority of Medicaid expansion costs. But after the Supreme Court said states didn’t have to adopt the expansion, a number of Republican-controlled states rejected the program. So far, only 31 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid through Obamacare…

So Obamacare probably isn’t destined to explode, but that doesn’t mean Trump’s prediction won’t come true. It’ll just be his fault if that happens, not Barack Obama’s or Nancy Pelosi’s. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has wide discretion over a number of ACA provisions that that could allow him to sabotage the law. At Politico last week, Dan Diamond wondered, “Is Trumpcare already here?” He pointed out that the Trump administration has already begun to implement its agenda through executive action.

The president’s team started early in its Obamacare assault, canceling ads in late January encouraging people to sign up for insurance on the marketplaces during open enrollment, despite the fact that the ads had already been purchased. It was a clear attempt to decrease participation in the program. The people most likely to sign up without inducement are people in worse health who need insurance to pay for their care, so these sort of ads boosting enrollment are essential for attracting the younger, healthier groups necessary to spread out the cost and keep premiums low.

 

6 Changes the Trump Administration Can Still Make to Obamacare,” by Danielle Kurtzleben, WNYC; March 29, 2017

 Excerpt: After seven years of trying, Republicans failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act last week.*

[*] This refers to the House version of Trumpcare that never came to a vote

That doesn’t mean the health care drama is over, though. House Speaker Paul Ryan this week told donors that the party is “going to keep getting at this thing,” according to The Washington Post.

But whatever Ryan and his colleagues manage to do, plenty could still change in the Affordable Care Act. Last week’s failed bill, after all, was only one part of the GOP’s plan.

The second part – making changes to regulations and how Obamacare is administered – doesn’t even require Congress’ help. And those changes could make or break the health law.

“There are things the Trump administration might do that could prop up the markets, and there are things they might do that could help the markets explode, if that’s what they want to happen,” says Cynthia Cox, who studies Obamacare’s effects on private insurance at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

 

Is Trump Sabotaging Obamacare?” by Michael Grunwald, POLITICO Magazine; March 14, 2017

Excerpt: President Donald Trump often blasts Obamacare as a total disaster, a pathetic failure doomed to implode. But sometimes he adds a twist, suggesting that instead of trying to fix the situation, Republicans would be smarter to exploit the situation. “Let it be a disaster, because we can blame that on the Democrats,” Trump mused to the National Governors Association on February 27. “Let it implode, then let it implode in 2018 even worse … Politically, it would be a great solution.”

Trump has made similar remarks on Twitter, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, in an Oval Office meeting last week with conservative activists, and at a Roosevelt Room event on Monday with Americans who don’t like Obamacare. He keeps emphasizing that Republicans are “putting themselves in a very bad position” by pushing a controversial repeal bill, when they could easily let Obamacare collapse and let Democrats take the blame. He’s been saying this kind of thing so often that it’s worth asking whether he’s taking his own advice, trying to sabotage Obamacare for political reasons.

 

Four Things Trump Could Do Right Now to Fix Obamacare,” by Michael Grunwald, POLITICO Magazine; March 28, 2017

 

Trump Makes His First Big Changes to Obamacare,” by Jeffrey Young, Huffington Post; April 13, 2017

Excerpt: President Donald Trump’s administration has taken its first action to change the way the health insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act operate, aiming to shore them up for next year’s sign-up period.

The regulation published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Thursday is a response to insurers’ demands that federal authorities take steps to limit consumers’ ability to drop in and out of the insurance market. Such “gaming” of the system drives up costs for the carriers that must cover the consumers’ claims.

The overall consequence of the new rules is that health insurance will be harder to buy in 2018, especially for people whose circumstances change during the year, enabling them to buy policies outside the annual sign-up period. The length of that sign-up period is also cut in half.

Other aspects of the regulation could make coverage less comprehensive, reduce the value of the tax credit subsidies that make premiums more affordable for low- and middle-income people, and allow insurers to offer plans with fewer medical providers in their networks.

 

Trump administration issues final rule on stricter Obamacare enrollment,” by Yasmeen Abutaleb, Reuters; April 13, 2017

Excerpt: The Trump administration on Thursday issued a final rule that will shorten the Obamacare enrollment period and give insurers more of what they say they need in the individual insurance market, likely making it harder for some consumers to purchase insurance, healthcare experts said.

It could also raise out-of-pocket medical expenses, the experts said, because it gives insurers more flexibility in determining the value of their coverage.

The rule, which takes effect later this year, comes as President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress have renewed efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, after an effort to pass a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives failed last month.

 

Trump Threatens Healthcare for Poor in Effort to Cut Healthcare for Poor,” by Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams; April 14, 2017

Excerpt: President Donald Trump appears to be pursuing Republican strategy of sabotaging Affordable Care.

Displaying deal-making skills that employ vulnerable citizens as bargaining chips, President Donald Trump threatened on Wednesday to cut off subsidies that help poor people afford health coverage in order to get Democrats to the negotiating table on repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

 

Trump Threatens Health Subsidies to Force Democrats to Bargain,” by Robert Pear, New York Times; April 13, 2017

Excerpt: In an interview with The Wall Street Journal this week, Mr. Trump threatened to withhold the subsidy payments as a way to induce the Democrats to bargain with him…

If the subsidies are interrupted, insurers say, some health plans will increase premiums and others will withdraw from the individual insurance market. That will, in turn, affect millions of other people who do not receive the subsidies.

 

Thom Hartmann: How Republicans Quietly Sabotaged Obamacare Long before Trump Came into Office,” by Thom Hartmann, Alternet; March 14, 2017

Excerpt: When the ACA was rolled out, telling insurance companies that they had to insure anybody who signed up regardless of previous conditions or sickness, everybody realized that the insurance companies would probably lose money in the first decade or so, until previously uninsured but sick people got into the system, got better and things evened out.

To get the insurance companies to go along with this risk of losing money, the ACA promised to make them whole for any losses in the first decade. At the end of each fiscal year, the insurance companies merely had to document their losses and the government would reimburse them out of ACA funds provided for by the law.

The possibility of their losing money was referred to as the “risk corridor,” and the ACA explicitly filled those risk corridors with a guarantee of making the insurance companies, at the very least, whole.

Then something happened. As the New York Times noted on Dec. 9, 2015, “A little-noticed health care provision slipped into a giant spending law last year has tangled up the Obama administration, sent tremors through health insurance markets and rattled confidence in the durability of President Obama’s signature health law.”

Rubio and a number of other Republicans had succeeded in gutting the risk corridors. The result was that just in 2015, end-of-fiscal-year risk corridor payments to insurance companies that were supposed to total around $2.9 billion were only reimbursed, according to Rubio himself quoted in the Times, to the tune of around $400 million. Rubio bragged that he’d “saved taxpayers $2.5 billion.”

And indeed he had. But the insurance companies were thrown into a crisis. And with Republicans in Congress absolutely refusing to refund the risk corridors, that crisis would get worse as time went on, at least over a period of a few years. So the insurance companies did the only thing they could. In (mostly red) states with low incomes and thus poorer health, they simply pulled out of the marketplace altogether. This has left some states with only a single insurer left. In other states, they jacked up their prices to make up their losses.

As Robert Pear in the Times noted, Rubio’s “plan limiting how much the government can spend to protect insurance companies against financial losses has shown the effectiveness of quiet legislative sabotage.”


Trump says he is aiming for a ‘great, great form of health care’” (2:11) published by Washington Post on June 28, 2017


 

[1]. “Lest We Forget: The Big Lie Behind the Rise of Trump” (23:30)

Lest We Forget: The Big Lie Behind the Rise of Trump” (23:30)

Bill Moyers: All of Donald Trump’s Lies,” by Bill Moyers, Alternet; June 28, 2017


 

[2]. The “death spiral” concept seems to have started with a conspiracy theorist who believed that the flaws in Obamacare were deliberately written into the Affordable Care Act so that one day, years from that point, after dozens of attempts to repeal it, the ACA would be so undesirable that Democrats would claim that the only solution was “socialized medicine.”  I wrote about it at length here, “Death Spirals & Trump’s Healthcare Conspiracy”.

 

[3]. I recommend “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century,” by Timothy Snyder. It’s a very small book, a very easy and quick read.


 

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century 033017” (1:06:13)


 

[4]. For many, the biggest media failure has been the stupid use of phrases like “untruths” and “not factually correct’ and refusing to use the word “lies”. For fuck’s sake, it just makes things worse. Call a lie a lie because it is a lie. That’s not to suggest that every media outlet is avoiding the word “lie” – in fact, the New York Times recently published “President Trump’s Lies, the Definitive List,” by David Leonhardt and Stuart A. Thompson, on June 23, 2017. But when some media outlets referred to this article, they called it “a list of statements by Trump that were not true” or some variation of that.

The other major failure is the media’s inability to fully address Trump mental instability (if at all), with few exceptions. One journalist wrote about this here: “Avoiding questions about Trump’s mental health is a betrayal of public trust,” by Lee Siegel, Columbia Journalism Review; February 22, 2017


Trumpcare 3.0: From Bad to Worse

Coming soon – ‘Trumpcare 3.0: Return of the Sociopaths’

Trumpcare 2.0: People will die

Senate Trumpcare v2.0

Trumpcare: The Sociopath’s Guide to Healthcare

Trump’s Budget and Healthcare Plan are Economic Terrorism


You can sure that Republicans will do anything and everything to get Trumpcare passed. Expect the most unethical, dishonest, sociopathic actions to unfold in the near future. Expect the worst, but hope for the best. Don’t give up the fight now. Call:

202-224-3121

 

Tell your Senators to vote No on Trumpcare. When you call, please refer to it as “The Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” (or BCRA). Although it may be currently referred to as H.R. 1628, this may change as the bill reaches the Senate floor for a vote.

Call your senator: Phone numbers for every office of every U.S. senator,” by David Nir, Daily Kos; February 2, 2017

See this article for a list of Senators and contact information who need to really hear from their constituents: “New CBO Score: Trumpcare Kills for Profit,” by Stephanie Connolly & Alex Lawson, HuffPost; June 27, 2017


 

Web Extra: Words Still Have No Meaning | Full Frontal on TBS” (2:21)


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