If you're one of those people who needs a last-minute nudge to complete your health insurance paperwork, and your health insurance comes through the Affordable Care Act, you're apparently on your own this year. The Trump White House has ordered the Heath and Human Services Department to scrap all advertising and outreach on ObamaCare in the crucial final five days of the open enrollment period, HHS and Capitol Hill sources tell Politico. That includes reminders to people who have begun enrolling through HeathCare.gov and even ads that have already been paid for, according to the sources.
As of Jan. 4, 8.8 million people have already signed up for coverage on the federal ObamaCare exchanges, a slight increase even as Trump and Republicans in Congress began the process of gutting the law. HHS had projected that 13.8 million people would sign up by the Jan. 31 deadline, and in past years, the final five days have seen a rush of last-minute enrollments, especially from the younger and healthier people the insurance system needs to function properly. Without the ads and reminders, those numbers are expected to fall short.
"President Trump is signaling he's the new sheriff," Rep. Chris Collins, (R-N.Y.), Trump's top congressional ally, tells Politico. "He's been elected with a mandate. He's not going to tolerate his employees contradicting and undermining his mandate to get this country going in another direction."
And it is true, the sunny ads — which feature young, healthy people getting cheap insurance — do contradict Trump's assertion, as to ABC News' David Muir, that ObamaCare is "too expensive. It's horrible health care. It doesn't cover what you have to cover. It's a disaster."
Trump has also been arguing — to House Republicans, for example, and on ABC News — that ObamaCare is exploding under its own weight. (Here's a counterargument.) "I told the Republicans this, the best thing we could do is nothing for two years, let it explode," Trump told Muir on Wednesday. "And then we'll go in and we'll do a new plan and — and the Democrats will vote for it.... If I didn't do anything for two years they'd be begging me to do something." Well, you can't say Trump is doing nothing.