We the People: Return of the swamp monster

This is not the title of Michael Grimm’s plan to run for his old seat in Congress. It is a good title for any horror movie about a monster and a swamp. The title is a fitting description of President Trump and his first months in office. He promised to change everything in Washington, D.C. by draining the “swamp” but he has utterly failed to accomplish anything despite his party controlling the Senate and the House.

President Trump ran as an “outsider” candidate who would “drain” the less-than-transparent swamp of Washington D.C.’s backroom-dealing and chicanery. However, when the GOP “skinny” bill to modify the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) failed in the Senate, Mr. Trump launched a campaign of misinformation and misdirection to damage the ACA although it is one of the laws of the land which he took an oath to enforce.

Until it is repealed or replaced he has a duty to the American people to uphold the law. He cannot pick and choose what laws he will enforce just as he cannot pick and choose which citizens he will protect. He should enforce the law especially for those Americans who need affordable healthcare.

After the Senate passed on the proposed “skinny” repeal, President Trump, in his first speech, announced he would let Obamacare “implode.” He decried the Senate failure, stating, “Oh boy. They’ve been working on that one for seven years. Can you believe that? The swamp.”

He added, “We’ll get it done … we’re going to get it done … I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode … I turned out to be right. Let Obamacare implode.”

His public threats to sabotage the nation’s healthcare system have been compounded by threats to destabilize insurance markets by withholding federal payments to subsidize healthcare necessary for the operation of the ACA.

Health insurance executives and administrators have called Mr. Trump’s repeated threats to end cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs) “the single most destabilizing factor in the individual market and millions of Americans could soon feel the impact of fewer choices, higher costs and reduced access to care.”

Under the ACA, the federal government subsidizes insurers so they can offer affordable coverage to low-income Americans. Without CSRs, insurers would lose money by participating in the healthcare insurance exchanges. There would be only two choices for insurers: end coverage or raise premiums 20 percent.

Mr. Trump tweeted, “If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for members of Congress will end very soon!” White House advisor, Kellyanne Conway, said, “He’s going to make that decision this week, and that’s a decision that only he can make.”

If the federal government withheld CSRs it would destabilize the insurance market and cause Obamacare to collapse and adversely affect low-income Americans. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said that the president wouldn’t allow ACA insurance markets to collapse because “it hurts people.”

Senator Bernie Sanders blasted Mr. Trump’s threats to the ACA. He said, “It’s incomprehensible that … a president of the United States wants to sabotage healthcare in America [and] make life more difficult for millions of people who are struggling … to get the health insurance … and to pay for that health insurance.” Senator Sanders is correct and Mr. Trump’s comments, as calculated, have already hurt the ACA.

Mr. Trump was already fluent in Washington D.C. double-speak before the election but he has mastered the Potomac two-step and deftly avoids responsibility when asked about anything.

Ask him about how the administration improperly inveigled with Russian officials and he says “investigate Hillary Clinton.” Ask him about his failure to accomplish anything of importance in his term and he says, “What about this Russia-gate witch hunt?” He promises that Obamacare will fail on its own but he is working to cause it to fail although he has been given no mandate to do so by the legislature.

The uncertainty caused by his comments has already wreaked havoc in insurance markets with a large insurance company pulling out of Ohio’s insurance exchange, citing the uncertainty around CSRs as the reason for the exit.

Everything Mr. Trump has done regarding Obamacare has been underhanded and unsanctioned by law. The administration cut the enrollment time period in half, ended outreach for new enrollees, weakened enforcement of the mandate for individuals to buy insurance and used ACA funds to produce videos filled with misinformation to discredit it to the public.

If his interference with the CSRs causes 20 million Americans to lose affordable healthcare, he will claim that it’s because of Hillary Clinton’s emails. This monster is quite comfortable in his swamp.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.