A repeal by any other name

October 13, 2017

Congress spent months this year trying to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. They failed because voters spoke out against proposals that would have stripped millions of Americans of their health insurance and raised costs for millions more.

Because Congress failed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, President Trump is doing everything he can to sabotage it through Executive Orders and administrative decisions. A series of actions by the Trump Administration threatens to spike insurance premiums, destabilize the individual insurance market, and create chaos for consumers.

On October 12, President Trump announced twin orders that, together, are expected to cause deep harm to the Health Insurance Marketplace where millions of Americans buy their health insurance.

  1. First, the President issued an Executive Order aimed at allowing insurance companies to sell cheap, junk insurance plans that are exempt from important consumer protections. These plans can discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, and they don’t have to offer comprehensive coverage.Experts fear these plans will lure healthy people away from high quality insurance with the promise of cheap premiums. As a result, more people will be vulnerable to financial devastation if they suddenly become ill or injured. And, anybody who isn’t in perfect health will face quickly-rising premiums for the insurance plans that can’t discriminate against them.In short, the Executive Order would lead to a two-tier health insurance system: One that sells cheap but skinny plans to people who are currently healthy, and one that sells increasingly expensive to the rest of us – anyone who isn’t in perfect health.
  2. Later that night, President Trump announced that he will halt cost-sharing subsidies that help insurance companies lower deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for low-income Americans.Experts and elected officials from across the political spectrum agree that this will lead insurance companies to raise premiums even further, and may even lead more insurers to leave the Marketplace. The announcement comes less than three weeks from the start of Open Enrollment for 2018 plans.

These two actions are the latest in a series of decisions by the Trump Administration meant to weaken the Health Insurance Marketplace – decisions like shortening the Open Enrollment period and cutting funding for marketing and enrollment assistance. The New York Times is keeping a helpful list of all of these actions at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/10/12/us/trump-undermine-obamacare.html

What Consumers Need to Know

Most people who buy their health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you should be worried, but not panicked. Here are some things to know:

  • President Trump’s Executive Order on junk insurance plans will need to go through months of rule-making and public comments, so it will not take effect immediately.
  • By law, insurance companies have to continue providing discounts on out-of-pocket costs like deductibles to those who qualify. If you’re getting these discounts, they will continue. The insurance company won’t get paid back, however, which is why we expect companies to compensate by raising premiums for everybody.
  • If you qualify for premium discounts, those discounts are safe and will hold your premiums steady. Because the price you pay is tied to your income, you will be insulated from premium hikes.
  • If you don’t qualify for premium discounts, you will pay the price for these reckless decisions. Already, insurance companies in many states had filed huge rate increases because of concerns that the Trump administration would stop the cost-sharing reduction payments. Please be sure to contact your members of Congress and tell them how you will be personally impacted by premium increases of 20% or more.

What Can We Do Now?

  1. E-mail your Senators and RepresentativesWe need swift action by Congress to stabilize the Health Insurance Marketplace, including permanently funding the cost-sharing subsidies. There is already bipartisan support for this, led by Senators Alexander and Murray. Please contact Senator McCaskill and Senator Blunt today and tell them to prioritize passing bipartisan legislation to protect our access to health insurance. Click here to take action.
  2. Voice your concerns on social media. Please post a video or photo with the message “I’m counting on you to protect my health care.” Be sure to tag Senator Blunt @RoyBlunt, Senator McCaskill @clairecmc, Missouri Health Care for All @MoHealthCareAll, and include #ACASabotage
  3. Help grow the movement for protecting the health care we have and transforming it so it’s even better. Can you help by getting 5 or more friends to join our movement by signing our Keep Our Care petition? You can share the following message through e-mail or social media:

Help me protect health care from ongoing attacks. Sign the Keep Our Care petition at https://missourihealthcareforall.org/keep-our-care/

These are very serious times for health care access. Please stay involved as we work together to protect access to affordable care.

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