Sacramento Bee

Obamacare isn’t imploding in California, despite Trump’s efforts

November 1, 2017

Covered California’s open enrollment period begins Wednesday, and Californians need to know that the state’s health insurance marketplace is open for business.

Until Jan. 31, Californians can sign up for quality health care coverage, and current members can change plans or see if they qualify for extra financial help.

The Trump administration wants to confuse consumers and discourage enrollment. You may have heard that the Affordable Care Act’s enrollment period is being reduced to 45 days and the ACA website will be shut down on Sunday mornings.

To be clear this is not true for Covered California, which provides health care to 1.5 million people.

Elected officials, health care workers, and community leaders are working every day to support Covered California to provide more options for competitive rates. We have one of the most successful health insurance marketplaces in the nation.

For years, Republicans have told us that the ACA is a failure. Now that they hold power, they want to make their rhetoric a reality. After failed legislative attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Trump administration is systematically sabotaging it and raising insurance rates for the middle class.

The administration cut ACA advertising money by 90 percent. The more people have health care coverage, the lower insurance rates will be, underscoring the ACA’s success. By not reminding people their coverage needs to be renewed, fewer healthy people will remember to re-enroll, increasing insurance rates.

Reports in 2016 showed ACA rates were stabilizing and costs were expected to level out for consumers and insurers. Unfortunately, statements made by President Trump are deliberately increasing uncertainty, increasing premiums as insurers question federal support for the program.

Recently, Trump went even further by signing an executive order to stop federal dollars that provide lower deductibles and discounted co-payments to some middle-class families. Insurance companies are still required to offer these discounts, but without the federal assistance they were promised. This executive order will increase insurance rates by an estimated 20 percent.

A bipartisan proposal in Congress is aimed at restoring this assistance and stabilizing insurance rates, but Trump reversed course and now opposes it. The Republican alternatives to the ACA give the top one percent large tax cuts while kicking millions of Americans off their health insurance and raising rates on seniors and people with pre-existing conditions.

California leaders are working hard to protect the quality health coverage Californians enjoy. But actions by Trump and the Republican Congress will limit choices and greatly increase rates in California next year unless people demand that their GOP representatives work to improve the ACA and Medicaid for California, not destroy them.