The long GOP-led effort in the Senate and House attempting to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, has ended (or maybe only paused). President Trump has repeated his desire today to have the ACA “implode”. Now the task to kill Obamacare will fall more heavily to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price — already hard at work doing his best to sabotage Obamacare implementation.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services run by HHS recently canceled contracts in 18 cities that funded programs providing ACA enrollment services. Linda Blumberg, a senior fellow of health policy at the Urban Institute explained to the AP why the canceled contracts matter : The two companies with terminated contracts only signed up 14,500 people for the individual market — a fraction of a percent of the 9.2 million who enrolled overall — but they reportedly sought out younger, healthier people. Health policy experts say getting more young people to sign up is key to bringing premiums down and stabilizing the market.
“When you take away funding for training and provisions for assistance, you’re more likely to lose healthier people, and so you’re working against the soundness of the markets,” says Blumberg. “These are the people who won’t move heaven and earth to get enrolled on their own.”
By design the HHS Secretary was given wide latitude to implement Obamacare. And Secretary Price, Trump’s man at HHS, is using this well meant flexibility to ruin the law. It’s probably worth recalling, too, that Vermont’s homegrown Republican Obamacare-hater Darcie Johnston was rewarded for her campaign work for Trump with a job helping Tom Price at HHS praise the Lord and pass the cancel-contract stamps.