The Trump administration has been sharply curtailing outreach to promote health-care sign-ups under Affordable Care Act exchanges — cutting the enrollment period in half, scheduling outages for HealthCare.gov on Sundays and other popular times, slashing the advertising budget, and axing grants for groups that help people enroll — but President Trump and his aides are also quietly denying waivers for states trying to increase competition and lower costs for residents. And in at least one case, The Washington Post reports, Trump himself said no.
Officials in GOP-controlled Iowa had requested a Section 1332 waiver to transform the state's ObamaCare exchanges along conservative lines to expand marketplace options and contain premiums, and after Trump read about Iowa's plan, closely watched by other states, in The Wall Street Journal, he grew angry, The Washington Post reports, citing an individual briefed on what happened:
Trump first tried to reach [then-HHS Secretary Tom] Price, the individual recounted, but the secretary was traveling in Asia and unavailable. The president then called Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency charged with authorizing or rejecting Section 1332 applications. CMS had been working closely with Iowa as it fine-tuned its submission. ... Trump's message in late August was clear: ... Tell Iowa no. [The Washington Post]
The Trump administration has also effectively nixed a request from Oklahoma, which detailed its frustration in a letter last Friday, and other red and blue states. ObamaCare supporters see these rejected waivers as part of a broader ObamaCare sabotage effort. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who is working on a bipartisan Senate plan to fix ObamaCare issues, warned that if Trump "is only interested in sabotaging the market, that is a dangerous road for him to ride, because he will own it." You can read more at The Washington Post.