There is no repeal or replace of Obamacare thus far in 2017. There are those people who will blame Donald Trump for this situation, but they would be wrong. The president is not the Congress and they need to send him something to sign.
The Affordable Care Act continues to self-destruct. Without anything being done by Congress to stop the erosion, people in some U.S. cities will see the cost of Obamacare health plans climb as much as 50 percent next year.
Naturally government subsidies will offset much of the increases, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. But the Republicans came to power promising to fix the disastrous healthcare law and it hasn’t been done.
Meanwhile, Kaiser tracks premium increases in 21 U.S. cities, providing a snapshot of how the health law is faring around the country. The figures are not good for the American consumer, or for that matter, lawmakers up for re-election next year.
The cost of mid-level health plans will climb by double-digit percentage rates in 15 of those cities and decline in two, according to an analysis of preliminary rates published last Thursday. That does not include Obamacare’s subsidies, which tend to hold down rate increases for people with low and moderate incomes.
But with so much confusion surrounding the law’s status in 2017, insurers are seeking greater premium increases. There is grave uncertainty about how the Trump administration will run the Affordable Care Act’s markets, Kaiser found.
The reality is the Republicans control the presidency and both houses of Congress for the first time since Obamacare passed. They have been saying for seven years they would repeal the law if they had the power to do so. That has not happened, even with the help of many Republicans.
A frustrated Trump has threatened to undermine the law, because Democrats are refusing to help. He said late in July, “As I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode, then deal. Watch!” That could be a slow process considering the midterm elections are only 16 months away and the Republicans have the onus on them as a party.
Trump has two choices at this time, for acting alone. He can ask his agencies not to enforce the individual mandate created under Obamacare. He can also stop the funds for the subsidies that help insurers offset health-care costs for low-income Americans.
Neither is an ideal move. Both options would further disrupt the ACA’s individual markets and lead to higher premiums. This is something no Republican running for office next year would be happy to see.