Obamacare: Trump ponders sabotage
“Well, he finally went there,” said Jordan Weissmann in Slate.com. In an interview last week, President Trump “effectively threatened to sabotage the entire individual health insurance market” if Democrats refused to negotiate with him on a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. The president said he was considering whether to continue making critical payments to insurers that reduce the cost of coverage for low-income customers. House Republicans sued to halt these “cost-sharing reductions” subsidies, which continue because the Obama administration appealed a lower-court defeat. If Trump “stops defending the case and halts the funding,” Obamacare’s insurance exchanges “could well collapse.” The president insisted he didn’t want “people to get hurt” but threatened to remove funding for the subsidies to bring Democrats to the negotiating table. “Welcome to the Tony Soprano school of health policymaking.”
Trump shouldn’t use these subsidies as leverage— he should just withdraw them and let Obamacare collapse, said Alan Korwin in Townhall.com. It’s an “abject disaster” already. Young, healthy people have generally refused to sign up, and several states are served by just a single insurance company. Rising premiums are leaving customers “outraged.” Republicans should do everything they can to hasten the law’s demise, let Democrats take the blame for its failure, and then implement a new, market-based health-care system that drives costs down for everyone. That’s the only way Trump “wins on Obamacare.”
Good luck with that, said Jonathan Chait in NYMag.com. Voters generally don’t take kindly to politicians who “openly threaten them with harm,” and polls already show that 61 percent of the public think responsibility for Obamacare now lies with the GOP. Besides, does Trump really expect to blackmail Democrats into helping him pass some version of the Republicans’ American Health Care Act, which polls at just 17 percent? Even if Trump is bluffing, “the threat itself is outright sabotage,” said Dana Milbank in The Washington Post. Insurers are now deciding whether to participate in the 2018 exchanges, and what prices to set. With “Trump’s sword of Damocles” hanging over them, many may well decide to raise their premium costs to cover the potential shortfall, or pull out of the exchanges altogether. If that happens and Obamacare collapses, people will blame the current president, not the last one.