Trump is massively cutting advertisements and outreach for health care enrollment, deliberately trying to lower the number of people who sign up.
Republican efforts in Congress to kill Obamacare crashed and burned spectacularly in July, due largely to the relentless pressure of furious constituents who would have lost coverage.
But Donald Trump, who long promised he would do away with the law, is still determined to get rid of it.
On Thursday, Trump administration officials announced that the Department of Health and Human Services will be slashing advertising for insurance exchange enrollment by 90 percent, including a $23 million cut to in-person outreach.
As Director of MoveOn Ben Wikler noted, “This is disgusting and will cost lives. … Without ads, people will miss the window to get insured.”
This decision comes after months of similar moves to scale back programs that promote enrollment in the Obamacare marketplaces. In January, Trump canceled a planned advertising campaign for insurance, resulting in lower-than-expected enrollment. And in June, Trump ended the contracts of Obamacare sign-up navigators in 18 cities, making it harder for people to get assistance choosing plans.
The result will likely be an even worse shortfall in enrollees, at a time when insurance companies are already raising premiums and canceling plans because of the risk Trump might cancel cost-sharing reductions.
Lori Lodes, who ran outreach for the exchanges in the Obama administration, skewered Trump on Twitter, outlining just how big a disaster this is going to be.
“We took the job of signing people up for health care seriously,” Lodes said in a statement to Shareblue Media. “Our goal was always to make sure that we were getting the word out to as many people as possible so that they could understand their options and make an informed choice.”
By slashing in-person assistance and advertising, Lodes continued, it means “way fewer people sign up” for health care. And the Trump administration knows that.
“The Trump administration couldn’t repeal health care so now they are going to do everything they can to do it themselves,” Lodes said. “If the administration won’t stop their sabotage, Republicans in Congress need to stand up to them and stop it.”
It is worth remembering that there is absolutely no popular mandate for Trump to sabotage Obamacare. Quite the opposite, in fact.
After years of “Obamacare” being used as a pejorative and a millstone around the necks of Democrats running for office, the politics of health care have shifted. As of August, Americans support Obamacare by a net 13 percentage points. If anything, there is a sentiment that the government should do even more to provide health care for all, with increasing numbers of voters and politicians supporting a universal single payer system.
Trump’s unforced, petty assault on health care is yet another reminder of his inability to serve anyone but his narrow right-wing base. He will never succeed if he is rooting for the American people to fail.