As of this morning, American consumers can sign up to have health care coverage in 2018. The healthcare.gov website is up and running, and though Donald Trump has pushed prices higher, many consumers will find that insurance costs in this open-enrollment period are very affordable.
That said, as TPM noted, many in the industry have low expectations for the first enrollment period of the Trump era.
On the eve of the first full open enrollment period of the Trump era, several independent studies estimate that enrollment will drop this year as a result of the administration’s actions to gut outreach funding, cancel planned subsidy payments to insurers, and sow confusion with public statements declaring the Affordable Care Act “dead.”
S&P Global Ratings published a report Tuesday projecting that enrollment will drop between 7 and 13 percent compared to last year – meaning between 0.8 and 1.6 million more people will go uninsured in 2018.
It’s important to realize that this isn’t an accident or a symptom of systemic troubles. It’s the result of deliberate policy decisions made by Republican officials who don’t want the existing American system to succeed.
There are quite a few veterans of the previous administration, however, who intend to do what the current administration won’t: encourage people to sign up for health care coverage.
Barack Obama is already using his social-media platform to promote the open-enrollment period – the former president even recorded a brief new video – and as NBC News recently reported, some members of his former team are eager to help in the same endeavor.
As evidence mounts that the Trump administration is undermining next month’s Obamacare enrollment period, veterans of the previous administration are planning a parallel effort to sign people up for health insurance.
The new group, Get America Covered, is led by Lori Lodes and Josh Peck, who both worked on enrollment efforts under Obama. Other participants include Van Jones, former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Andy Slavitt, former insurance CEO Mario Molina, and actors Bradley Whitford and Alyssa Milano.
If you’re waiting for Trump to do his part to help, stop. He’s already taken steps to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, and his attacks against the law have created widespread confusion among consumers, which is likely to contribute to decreased participation.
I’m curious, though, about whether health care advocates could’ve tried a different rhetorical strategy with this White House. I’ve long wondered how Trump would’ve responded if this were presented to him as a dare.
What if Democratic leaders publicly predicted, “I bet Trump’s enrollment totals fall far short of Obama’s”? What if the question Trump wanted to avoid early next year was, “Why were Obama’s numbers so much better than yours?”
Because once the open-enrollment period ends, there are going to be some head-to-head comparisons, and the Republican White House is going to have to explain why Trump’s totals look awful compared to Obama’s.