As regular readers know, Donald Trump’s efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act’s open-enrollment period were hardly subtle. The administration cut the enrollment window for consumers in half, curtailed outreach programs, and dramatically scaled back advertising campaigns.
Making matters worse, the president himself kept telling the public that the law is “dead,” while taking policy steps that forced premiums higher. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently published a list tracking each of the actions Trump World has taken to “sabotage the ACA by destabilizing private insurance markets or reversing the law’s historic gains in health coverage” – and the list wasn’t short.
But if the Republican White House hoped this year’s ACA enrollment period would kill off “Obamacare,” it’s going to be disappointed.
About 11.8 million people signed up for an insurance plan through Obamacare in the 2018 enrollment period, according to a new report, a small 3.7 percent drop from the 12.2 million who enrolled in 2017.
The new data was released Wednesday by the nonpartisan National Academy for State Health Policy, which researches health care issues.
When we last covered this issue, we only had access to data on consumers who signed up by way of the healthcare.gov website, which doesn’t include the third of the country that has their own state-based marketplaces. This new total reflects the more comprehensive national picture.
The president spent months insisting that the entirety of the Affordable Care Act is “dead” and “gone.” Forgive the obvious cliché, but the reports of the Obamacare’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
And what about the legislative efforts to repeal the health care law, as some prominent Republicans are still eager to do?
Politico reported last week that GOP officials “are giving up on their years-long dream of repealing Obamacare,” at least for now. House Budget Committee Chair Steve Womack (R-Ark.) added that if his party tackled ACA repeal again, it’d be “spinning our wheels.”
I’d warn health care advocates against complacency – Republicans have changed their minds about health care legislating before – but given where things stand, the millions of American families who rely on the Affordable Care Act can probably breathe a sigh of relief, at least through the end of 2018.