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GOP AGENDA: Sabotage, Uncertainty, and Repeal Cause Premiums to Rise

Aug 17, 2017

President Trump and Republicans in Congress ran their campaigns promising  to lower health care premiums and reduce costs. But it’s now clear that every part of their health care agenda will actually raise them significantly.

At the same time Republicans in Congress kept looking for legislative ways to repeal health care, the Trump administration injected uncertainty into the marketplaces by undermining implementation of the law by repeatedly threatening to default on payments that help lower out of pocket costs and deductibles, and proudly declaring its goal was to let the marketplaces fail. The Congressional Budget Office and Kaiser Family Foundation found that this sabotage and uncertainty will increase premiums by 20% and add almost $200 billion to the federal deficit. The Center for American Progress estimated that Trump’s threats alone will raise premiums as much as $2,500 next year. But that’s apparently not enough for this administration — they continue to pursue a repeal agenda in Congress and seem fully committed to sabotaging open enrollment — potentially denying millions of Americans access to affordable health coverage.

Here are the ways the GOP’s efforts increase health care costs:

1. SABOTAGE

The new analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office makes clear that if the Trump administration cancels payments of cost-sharing-reductions, payments that help lower out of pocket costs and deductibles, it will raise premiums by 20 percent next year and by 25 percent in 2020 — while costing taxpayers nearly $200 billion more. The Kaiser Family Foundation found similarly that it would mean a 19% increase nationally.

President Trump: “Without The Payments, Obamacare Is Gone, Just Gone”: “The president told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that not only would such a move cause Obamacare to ‘die,’ it could also be used to force Democrats to negotiate on repealing the health-care law altogether. ‘Without the payments, Obamacare is gone, just gone,’ Trump said.” [ Washington Post, April 14, 2017]

The GOP Chairman of the Senate Health Committee, Lamar Alexander, said: “Without payment of these cost-sharing reductions, Americans will be hurt.”

2. UNCERTAINTY

According to both Kaiser Family Foundation and the Congressional Budget Office, premiums are ALREADY increasing because of the uncertainty in the health care markets caused by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress just even threatening to cancel cost sharing reduction payments and not enforcing the law. Insurers are jacking up rates in anticipation that this sabotage continues. The Center for American Progress estimated that this uncertainty will raise premiums as much as $2,500 next year.

As the Associated Press reported, “Actions by the Trump administration are triggering double-digit premium increases on individual health insurance policies purchased by many people, according to a nonpartisan study.” This recent study from the Kaiser Family Foundation exposed the latest potential victims of the Trump Administration’s sabotage of our health care — middle class Americans whose premiums would skyrocket.

In addition, CBO echoed this point in its recent report:

“In an analysis using a preliminary version of updated projections of spending to subsidize health insurance purchased through the marketplaces that will be published soon, CBO and JCT find most of the results to be similar to those discussed here. The main exception is this: Premiums under the policy would rise by a smaller amount in 2018—as the updated projections incorporate some increase in premiums next year as a result of current uncertainty about future CSR payments. “

3. REPEAL

It’s not just uncertainty and sabotage that raise costs, it’s also the Republican agenda of repealing health care. Every alternative Republicans in Congress proposed would lead to higher health care costs.

First House Bill House Passed Repeal BCRA

(June Senate Bill)

Repeal No Replace

(July Senate Bill)

BCRA Redux

(Second July Bill)

“Skinny” Repeal

(Repeal of Individual Mandate Only)

Raising Premiums 20% 20% 20% 25%

(100% by 2026)

20% 20%

American families can’t afford higher health care costs so it’s worth pointing out that every part of the Republican  agenda leads to higher costs and less coverage: paying more for less. Costs are going up simply because Republicans are playing politics and, in the case of Trump and his Administration, due to intentional efforts to sabotage the current law.  As the Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote, “Republicans run the government and that means they are responsible for what happens in health care.”

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