Editorial: Health care issue isn't dead, though GOP is trying
The St. Louis Post Dispatch
June 25, 2018
Polls continue to show that the health care issue, despite being crowded out of the news by immigration, tariffs, North Korea and Trump administration scandals, remains near the top of voters' concerns. Republican candidates would be wise not to underestimate the power of this issue to sway votes this fall. Among major items of concern:
Two weeks ago, the Trump administration's Justice Department told a federal court that it would no longer enforce key parts of the Affordable Care Act that require insurance companies selling plans on the Healthcare.gov marketplace to cover consumers with pre-existing conditions. This decision also could affect the 160 million Americans covered by employer-sponsored health care plans, who could be free to resume charging higher premiums or imposing waiting periods for coverage of pre-existing conditions.
* The administration is rolling out new "association health plans" for individuals and small businesses. These policies would be cheaper and less comprehensive than current plans and might eliminate coverage for things like maternity services, emergency care or mental health treatment.
* In part because President Donald Trump ended cost-sharing payments to insurers selling Obamacare policies to lower-income customers, the costs for those policies have risen dramatically in most states. The price of the lowest-cost "silver plan" increased more than 40 percent in 15 states. In Missouri and Illinois, the costs went up about a third.
Fortunately, about 70 percent of those silver plan customers receive direct government subsidies because of their incomes. Direct government subsidies cost the government more than Trump saved by ending cost-sharing payments to insurers.
Polls consistently show Obamacare is viewed favorably by most Americans - this despite Trump's false claim that "for the most part, we will have gotten rid of a majority of Obamacare." One sign of its popularity is that Virginia just became the 33rd state to expand its Medicaid program to cover more of the working poor. In Utah, Idaho and Nebraska, voters might bypass their legislators and expand Medicaid by ballot measure.