Pedro Rojas holds a sign directing people to an insurance company where they can sign up for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, before the February 15th deadline on Feb. 5, 2015 in Miami, Fla.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty

At a key moment, Trump admin eyes Obamacare sabotage

Donald Trump spoke at the biennial Republican retreat yesterday and made an unexpected acknowledgement. The new president said he recently spoke to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) about “just doing nothing” with health care policy “for two years,” ignoring possible reforms to the Affordable Care Act, in the hopes that the system would struggle and hurt Democrats in the 2018 midterms.

Trump said he ultimately decided against that route, but as the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman noted, the remark was nevertheless instructive: according to the president himself, he’s open to playing politics with Americans’ lives.

Keep that in mind when reading this Politico scoop from last night.
The Trump administration has pulled the plug on all Obamacare outreach and advertising in the crucial final days of the 2017 enrollment season, according to sources at Health and Human Services and on Capitol Hill.

Even ads that had already been placed and paid for have been pulled, the sources told POLITICO…. It is also halting all media outreach designed to spur signups in the days leading up to the deadline. Emails are no longer being sent out to individuals who visited, the enrollment website, to encourage them to finish signing up. Those emails had proven highly successful in getting stragglers to complete enrollment before the deadline.
The point, obviously, is to try to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. The enrollment deadline isn’t until Tuesday, and because so many consumers wait until the last minute, the last few days are crucial. [Update: See below]

The Trump administration, however, has decided to stop letting Americans know about their options – not to save money, since the ads were already bought and paid for, but because the White House doesn’t want people to participate and get covered.

Vox’s Sarah Kliff added, “For Obamacare to work, it needs a lot of young people to sign up. Young adults typically have lower health care costs, so they can help balance out the hefty medical bills of older enrollees…. With less outreach at the very end of the open enrollment period, former Obamacare officials expect they’ll have fewer sign-ups from young adults.”

For Trump World, this is, of course, the point. The White House doesn’t want the system to work, so the president’s team is taking deliberate steps to undermine the system – in order to then complain that it doesn’t work.

For the record, Americans can still sign up through Jan. 31. You might want to let people in your life know about the looming deadline – it’s a detail their Republican-run government is trying to keep under wraps.

Update: The coverage of the Trump administration’s decision appears to have forced a reversal. As of late Friday afternoon, the ads that were pulled are now going to air after all.

Affordable Care Act, Donald Trump, Health Care and Obamacare

At a key moment, Trump admin eyes Obamacare sabotage