A man holds a sign directing people to an insurance company where they can sign up for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare in Miami, Fla in 2015.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty

Researchers scramble to secure ACA data, fearing Trump purge

We learned last week that teams of scientists, scholars, and researchers are scrambling to secure government data related to climate change, hoping to safeguard the irreplaceable public data from Donald Trump and his incoming administration. The president-elect hasn’t explicitly vowed to scrap or hide the information, but Trump and his team are overtly hostile towards climate science, and the scientific community doesn’t want to take any chances.

Evidently, the same is true among scholars who work in health care. Politico reports this morning:
The White House is encouraging researchers to copy government data on Obamacare out of concern that President-elect Donald Trump might hit the delete key when he takes office.

Spooked by Trump’s rhetoric and pledge to repeal Obamacare, several dozen independent researchers are racing to download key health care data and documents before Jan. 20. They say they began the effort on their own, and then got a boost from Jeanne Lambrew, the White House’s top health reform official, who also sounded alarms the new administration might expunge reams of information from public websites and end access to data, researchers told POLITICO.
It’s important to emphasize, as we did last week, that neither Trump nor anyone on his team has vowed to start trashing or hiding health care data. Researchers aren’t scrambling in response to an explicit threat, but rather, just as a precautionary move.

We know, however, that the incoming Republican administration has made no secret of its contempt for the Affordable Care Act, and it’s likely Trump and his team will find much of the existing ACA data politically inconvenient.

Which means, the data is potentially at risk – and even the White House is concerned about the future integrity of the information.

Politico’s piece added, “Having information on every facet of Obamacare is essential, researchers say, because Democrats may need it to build their case for why large pieces of the controversial law should be left intact. They say the data may be helpful for devising other reforms, including an eventual Obamacare replacement and, at minimum, should be preserved as part of the historical record.”

All the more reason, then, to protect the public information before Jan. 20.

Stepping back to consider these circumstances with a broader view, it’s worth appreciating how incredible it is we’ve reached this point in American history. There is no modern precedent for scholars fearing an incoming American president destroying public data, but then again, there’s never been an American president like Donald J. Trump.