Donald Trump has decided to cut the federal subsidies that helped make the insurance premiums on the health exchanges more affordable. But the people who will be most adversely affected by this move tend to live in states that voted for Trump last year.
Nearly 70 percent of those benefiting from the so-called cost-sharing subsidies live in states Trump won last November, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. The number underscores the political risk for Trump and his party, which could end up owning the blame for increased costs and chaos in the insurance marketplace.
The subsidies are paid to insurers by the federal government to help lower consumers’ deductibles and co-pays. People who benefit will continue receiving the discounts because insurers are obligated by law to provide them. But to make up for the lost federal funding, health insurers will have to raise premiums substantially, potentially putting coverage out of reach for many consumers.
Some insurers may decide to bail out of markets altogether.
Why do something that hurts his own supporters? One reason of course is that he does not care who gets hurt by his actions. Trump seems to have decided to go on a rampage against everything that his predecessor Barack Obama did as president because that seems to play well with his base even though they may belatedly realize that they are hurting themselves. He has also decided to not re-certify the Iran nuclear deal despite the fact that Iran has kept its end of the arrangement and the other negotiating partners to the deal want it to continue. It also helps to distract from his many failures as president and the many reports that he is held in extremely low esteem even by members of his own cabinet and party.
But the health care subsidy cuts may not work in his favor. Given that health care premiums were rising anyway because of the bloated and inefficient system that the US has, he could have blamed the rise on the failure of Obamacare. But with this move, any increase in premiums or cuts in coverage can be blamed on Trump’s actions, even if some of it may have happened anyway.
Trump’s move concerned some Republicans, worried the party will be blamed for the effects on consumers and insurance markets.
“I think the president is ill-advised to take this course of action, because we, at the end of the day, will own this,” Republican Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania said Friday on CNN. “We, the Republican Party, will own this.”
Dent is not running for re-election.
It seems like only those Republicans not running for office feel free to speak out against Trump’s actions, while the rest either cower in fear or are true loyalists.