Trump fea­tures Oba­macare ‘vic­tims’ in speech

Says pro­gram in ‘death spi­ral’

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY TOM HOW­ELL JR.

Pres­i­dent Trump high­lighted the “vic­tims” of Oba­macare on Wed­nes­day as part of his push to get a health bill from Congress, say­ing the pro­gram is in “ab­so­lute tur­moil” and driv­ing up costs even as his GOP al­lies strug­gle to reach con­sen­sus on a bet­ter plan.

Stand­ing on a tar­mac in Cincinnati, Mr. Trump said pre­mi­ums have “ex­ploded” in Ohio and other states. A ma­jor player, An­them, an­nounced on Tuesday it is leav­ing the Oba­macare ex­change in Ohio, likely leav­ing nearly 20 coun­ties with­out an op­tion next year.

“Oba­macare is in a to­tal death spi­ral, and the prob­lems will only get worse if Congress fails to act,” Mr. Trump said. “Oba­macare is dead. I’ve been say­ing it for a long time.”

The 2010 Af­ford­able Care Act promised to drive down health care costs by al­low­ing Amer­i­cans to shop for cov­er­age from com­pet­ing in­sur­ers on web-based ex­changes, of­ten with the help of tax­payer-funded sub­si­dies, yet the pro­gram fell short of en­roll­ment to­tals. In­sur­ers said they’re strug­gling to make money on sicker-than-ex­pected cus­tomers and can’t abide Mr. Trump’s wa­ver­ing com­mit­ment to the law, so they’re bail­ing or rais­ing their prices.

Mr. Trump ar­gues the law it­self is solely to blame. He met with two fam­i­lies who say they were ad­versely af­fected by the law, be­fore mov­ing on to a big­ger speech on his in­fra­struc­ture plans.

Raya Mafazy Whalen and her hus­band, Michael, own a com­mer­cial play­ground-equip­ment com­pany in Ohio and pro­vided their 15 em­ploy­ees with health cov­er­age be­fore Oba­macare’s im­ple­men­ta­tion.

When their plans ran afoul of the new law’s cov­er­age re­quire­ments, they were forced to seek cov­er­age on the new in­sur­ance ex­changes, ac­cord­ing to the White House. They said the cov­er­age wasn’t af­ford­able and wasn’t ac­cepted by their pre­ferred OB-GYN when Mrs. Whalen be­came preg­nant with their first child.

Dan Withrow, pres­i­dent of DSS Dis­tri­bu­tion Group Inc., in Louisville, Ken­tucky, said the cost of health care op­tions for his em­ploy­ees spiked by up to 150 per­cent fol­low­ing the ad­vent of Oba­macare.

Mr. Trump fo­cused on how they were harmed by Oba­macare, rather than what the emerg­ing GOP plan might be able to do for them.

The Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice es­ti­mated the House ver­sion of the plan would re­sult in 23 mil­lion fewer peo­ple hold­ing in­sur­ance a decade from now. While health­ier peo­ple in some states would pay much less, older and sicker con­sumers could see their costs soar, an­a­lysts said.

“The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive has done it’s job, it sent a plan to the Se­nate, and the Se­nate is work­ing it over,” Mr. Trump said.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that ne­go­tia­tors are “close” to craft­ing their own bill and count­ing up the votes, though po­ten­tial stick­ing points re­main.

Dur­ing a closed-door meet­ing Tuesday, GOP lead­ers floated the idea of let­ting states waive Oba­macare’s es­sen­tial health ben­e­fits but not its “com­mu­nity rat­ing” pro­vi­sions, which re­quire in­sur­ers to charge healthy and sicker peo­ple the same amount, ac­cord­ing to Se­nate aides.

The House bill in­cluded fed­eral fund­ing to sub­si­dize sicker peo­ple who would see higher prices, though the CBO sug­gested it wasn’t enough, so those with pre­ex­ist­ing med­i­cal con­di­tions might be priced out of the mar­ket.

Yet al­low­ing in­sur­ers to charge health­ier peo­ple less is a key pri­or­ity for con­ser­va­tives, who say it’s the best way to drive down pre­mi­ums.

Changes the ex­ist­ing House bill would have to go back to the lower cham­ber, or dif­fer­ences could be smoothed out in a House-Se­nate con­fer­ence and voted on again. Wa­ter­ing down the waiver sys­tem would likely up­set mem­bers of the arch­con­ser­va­tive House Free­dom Cau­cus, who in­sisted on let­ting states scrap com­mu­nity rat­ing be­fore ral­ly­ing be­hind the plan en masse this spring.

“We thought com­mu­nity rat­ing was pretty im­por­tant,” said Rep. Jim Jor­dan, Ohio Repub­li­can, on Wed­nes­day.

The group’s sup­port gave the bill the grease it needed to pass, 217-213, on May 4.

How­ever, Se­nate ef­forts to move the bill to the cen­ter could at­tract House GOP mod­er­ates who re­fused to back the ini­tial ver­sion.


Pres­i­dent Trump slammed Oba­macare dur­ing his speech in Cincinnati on Wed­nes­day. “Oba­macare is dead. I’ve been say­ing it for a long time,” he said. He high­lighted “vic­tims” of the pro­gram dur­ing his speech.

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