The Cost Of Sabotage: How Republicans’ Deliberate Actions To Undermine The Affordable Care Act Make Health Care More Expensive For American Families

From his first day in office, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have been waging a war on the American health care system, taking deliberate actions to repeal, undermine, and sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

This is not just some ideological debate of conservatives versus progressives, or Republicans versus Democrats. These efforts have real, negative consequences for millions of American families. And more and more Americans are paying the price, facing higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs – or losing coverage altogether.

This week, Protect Our Care will highlight the real, dollars-and-cents costs American families are facing because of Republican health care sabotage.

How Republicans Sabotaged Health Care

Some people may not be aware of all of the deliberate actions the Trump Administration and Republicans have taken over the past 18 months to sabotage our health care. Here are some examples:

  • On his first day in office, President Trump signed an Executive Order directing the administration to identify every way it can unravel the Affordable Care Act.
  • The Trump Administration cut the number of days people could sign up for coverage last year in during open enrollment in half.
  • It cut outreach so people know when to sign up by 90 percent and made dramatic cuts to in-person assistance that help people sign up for coverage.
  • And now, the Trump administration is pushing to allow insurance companies to sell junk plans that roll back key consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act and increase premiums for people seeking any meaningful coverage or who have a pre existing conditions.

Later that year, the Republican tax bill raised premiums by 10 percent, when they repealed the ACA’s individual mandate – the requirement that most people have health coverage.  That same bill gave hundreds of billions in tax breaks to the wealthy and big corporations, and resulted in huge profits and made CEOs and shareholders richer. Insurance companies got a 40% tax break.

Republicans in Congress repeatedly tried to pass a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act and slash Medicaid. These bills would have ripped away coverage from tens of millions of people, raised costs for families by double digits, imposed an age tax on older Americans, cut Medicaid by more than $800 billion and weakened protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Those efforts failed, but they were successful in injecting uncertainty into the market that caused insurance companies to raise rates.

Sabotage Means American Families Face Higher Costs, Coverage Loss

Higher Costs
For proof that Republican sabotage is raising costs on American families, just ask the insurance companies. This spring, insurance companies are announcing their initial planned rate hikes for next year. And just like last year, they want to raise premiums by double digits, because of Republican sabotage. America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) said that Trump Administration and Republican policies will “drive up the rate of premium increases, and exacerbate affordability issues for many other people.” The CEO of CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield said the marketplaces are “materially worse” under the Trump Administration because of its deliberate actions to undermine the system.

Here are examples from states where insurance companies’ initial rate hikes requests have been made public:

  • In Oregon, insurance companies want to raise rates by double digits – up to 14.3%. One insurance company cited “continued lack of funding for cost sharing reduction plans” as one of the factors for the increase.
  • In Vermont, insurance companies also want to significantly raise rates. One company cited “recent federal legislation [that] also eliminated the penalty associated with the individual mandate. As a result, it is expected that a number of healthy individuals will choose to forgo coverage and leave the single risk pool.”
  • In Maryland, insurance companies want to raise rates as high as 91 percent. As Kaiser Permanente said, “These proposed rates reflect the expected costs of providing coverage for these members, including the impact of eliminating the individual mandate penalty.”
  • In Virginia, insurance companies want to raise rates as high as 64 percent. Factors behind the rate request include “elimination of the Individual Mandate penalties” and “anticipated changes to regulations regarding Short Term Medical and Association Health Plans.”

In fact, a new analysis shows that because of two new Republican policies, encouraging junk plans and repealing the individual mandate, average individual-market premiums will increase by $1,013 next year. That compounds the damage done last year, insurance companies charged families $102 more per month in premiums, attributing the increases to the initial round of Trump Administration sabotage.

Fewer Americans Covered
A four-year trend of health coverage gains has been reversed under the Trump Administration. 3.2 million Americans lost coverage during the first year of the Republican war on health care, and millions more stand to lose their insurance over the coming years.

During President Trump’s first year in office, the national uninsured rate rose for the first time since Affordable Care Act implementation. Gallup reports that the national uninsured rate spiked by 1.3 percentage points to 12.2 percent in 2017, with 17 states experiencing statistically significant increases:

  • West Virginia (4.2 percent), New Mexico (3.8 percent), Iowa (3.3 percent), Hawaii (3.3 percent), Arizona (2.6 percent), Colorado (2.2 percent), Florida (1.4 percent), Illinois (1.6 percent), Indiana (1.5 percent), Missouri (2.1 percent), New York (1.2 percent), North Carolina (1.4 percent), South Carolina (2.1 percent), Texas (1.6 percent), Utah (2.1 percent), Washington (1.5 percent), and Wisconsin (2.1 percent).

Americans Agree: Republicans Are To Blame For Sabotaging Health Care

Recent polling confirms that the American people see Republicans’ actions for what they are: sabotage. A poll conducted last September found that 61 percent of voters believed President Trump was “trying to make the Affordable Care Act fail,” and 64 percent of voters said Trump is “playing politics with people’s health care.” The poll also found that the American people seriously disapprove of how Republicans in Congress are treating health care: 80 percent of voters disapprove while only 20 percent approve.

In a February poll, Public Policy Polling found that more than half of voters nationally (51 percent), said that they thought that the Trump Administration was actively taking steps that will hurt people’s health care and raise costs.

Today, six new Public Policy Polling Surveys in battleground states find that Americans will blame Republican sabotage for health insurance rate hikes:

  • In Arizona, 55 percent of voters say they will hold Republicans in Washington responsible if rates increase, compared to just 29 percent who said they would not. A plurality (49 percent) say they believe Washington Republicans and President Trump have been trying to undermine and sabotage the Affordable Care Act.
  • In Indiana, 49 percent of voters say they will hold Republicans in Washington responsible if rates increase, compared to just 20 percent who said they would not. A plurality (48 percent) say they believe Washington Republicans and President Trump have been trying to undermine and sabotage the Affordable Care Act.
  • In Missouri, 59 percent of voters say they will hold Republicans in Washington responsible if rates increase, compared to just 25 percent who said they would not. A plurality (47 percent) say they believe Washington Republicans and President Trump have been trying to undermine and sabotage the Affordable Care Act.
  • In Montana, 55 percent of voters say they will hold Republicans in Washington responsible if rates increase, compared to just 32 percent who said they would not. A plurality (47 percent) say they believe Washington Republicans and President Trump have been trying to undermine and sabotage the Affordable Care Act.
  • In Nevada, 56 percent of voters say they will hold Republicans in Washington responsible if rates increase, compared to just 32 percent who said they would not. A majority (55 percent) say they believe Washington Republicans and President Trump have been trying to undermine and sabotage the Affordable Care Act.
  • In Wisconsin, 59 percent of voters say they will hold Republicans in Washington responsible if rates increase, compared to just 31 percent who said they would not. A majority (53 percent) say they believe Washington Republicans and President Trump have been trying to undermine and sabotage the Affordable Care Act.

In short, while Republicans keep pushing their destructive repeal-and-sabotage agenda, more and more American families are paying the price.