By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, President Donald Trump issued an executive order affecting millions of Americans healthcare insurance. U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks, issued a statement supporting the president.
“Obamacare is a very flawed law and I am glad President Trump signed an executive order today to help out hard-working families across East Alabama who are seeing their health care premiums rise and their coverage shrink,” Rogers wrote.
“This executive order should be a good first step in fighting against Obamacare by giving folks more common sense and affordable health care options and more control over those options,” Rogers said. “It should also help make it easier for small business owners to join together to create an Association Health Plan (AHP) to help offer employees more affordable health insurance.”
On May 4, 2017, the House, with Rogers’ strong support, passed legislation that was an important step toward repealing and replacing Obamacare. The legislation, however, stalled in the Senate where Republicans were divided on the legislation, and Democrats were united in opposing any of the myriad of Republican plans.
“It shall be the policy of the executive branch, to the extent consistent with law, to facilitate the purchase of insurance across State lines and the development and operation of a healthcare system that provides high-quality care at affordable prices for the American people,” Trump’s executive order read. “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), however, has severely limited the choice of healthcare options available to many Americans and has produced large premium increases in many State individual markets for health insurance. The average exchange premium in the 39 States that are using www.healthcare.gov in 2017 is more than double the average overall individual market premium recorded in 2013. The PPACA has also largely failed to provide meaningful choice or competition between insurers, resulting in one-third of America’s counties having only one insurer offering coverage on their applicable government-run exchange in 2017. Expand the availability of and access to alternatives to expensive, mandate-laden PPACA insurance, including AHPs, STLDI, and HRAs.”
Hours after that executive order, the president announced his decision to cut off subsidies paid to health insurance companies. The move is likely to create chaos, as insurers were about to release their 2018 marketplace plans for the annual open enrollment period for healthcare insurance on the exchange.
The open enrollment period already begins later than in previous years on the order of Trump. The only time you can purchase coverage is Nov. 1 through Dec. 15. There are exceptions to that, including: changing jobs, getting a divorce, moving to another state, marriage, etc. that would create a special enrollment period.
The move ratchets up the pressure on Congress on Friday to take action to protect consumers from soaring premiums, while also adding a combustible new issue to negotiations to avert a government shutdown this year.
Critics of the president’s plan claim that this could cause chaos in insurance markets, sending insurers fleeing from the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, raising the federal government’s costs and pricing out some consumers.
“Late last night, Trump announced he would end cost-sharing subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, a tool that provides low-income, working families the help they need to afford health care,” U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Selma, said on social media Friday. “Make no mistake, Alabama is going to be hit hard,”
On Friday, President Trump said that he was trying to get Democrats to the negotiating table.
“If the Democrats were smart, what they’d do is come and negotiate something where people could really get the kind of health care that they deserve,” Trump said.
“President Trump is sabotaging the Affordable Care Act,” Sewell said. “We cannot allow this Administration to play politics with health care.”
The subsidies, known as cost-sharing reduction payments, go to insurance companies to offset the cost of reducing out-of-pocket expenses like deductibles and co-payments for low-income customers. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers will still have to help those customers, but without the government subsidies, critics claim the insurers will increase premiums. Critics suggest that rather than increasing competition, this move could force more insurers to abandon the marketplaces.
Sewell said that more than 30,000 Alabamians rely on the cost share reductions provided by the Affordable Care Act in Alabama’s 7th Congressional District alone. She said eliminating subsides will “put working families in a position where they cannot afford a doctors visit”
Trump has criticized the subsidies, saying that they just make the insurance companies rich.
Republicans have promised to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 – Obamacare – but have thus far failed to either repeal or replace President Barack Obama’s signature legislation.
(Original reporting by the ‘New York Times’ Thomas Kaplan and Robert Pear, Fox News, and CNN contributed to this report.)