The Washington Post reported last week that President Trump intentionally torpedoed Governor Kim Reynolds’ proposed stopgap insurance plan for 72,000 Iowans. The stopgap insurance plan requires a waiver from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), so Governor Reynolds and Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley urged Trump to approve the plan. It appears that President Trump not only ignored these three Iowa Republicans, he personally called the CMS and demanded CMS specifically reject Reynolds’ proposal.
President Trump is not only punishing Iowans, he is intentionally humiliating Reynolds, Ernst and Grassley who have lobbied for the stopgap plan. The three Republicans are all claiming that the deal may still be on the table. The 2018 insurance sign-up begins November 1st and it’s unlikely it could be implemented even if Trump reversed course.
Trump’s angry temper tantrum and refusal to support the Iowa proposal basically neutered the power of the three most influential Republicans in Iowa. It appears Reynolds, Ernst and Grassley have all folded once again rather than stand up to Trump and fight for Iowans. They are wilting once again as Trump intimidates them into silence.
Over 72,000 Iowans are totally dependent on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance exchange for their insurance coverage. The majority of these Iowans qualify for premium subsidies that make the insurance affordable. The remainder, about 20,000, will pay the full premium which has skyrocketed beyond the level of these Iowans ability to pay. All but one insurance carrier has fled the exchange because Republicans have threatened to end the subsidies and the insurance mandate. The one remaining insurance company, Medica, has proposed a 57% premium increase as a result of the Republicans’ totally destabilizing assaults on the insurance exchange market.
David Ommen, the Iowa Insurance Commissioner, warned in a September 19 statement that without the waiver “over 20,000 middle class farmers, early retirees and self-employed Iowans will likely either go uninsured or leave Iowa.”
It’s obvious President Trump is angry at the Republicans’ failure to repeal the ACA. Trump is choosing to punish Iowans by making their insurance unaffordable. Thousands of Iowans will be going without health insurance and in turn losing health care.
The Trump administration has done nearly everything possible to kill the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has reduced advertising by 90% for the signup period and cut funding for the navigators that assist consumers needing help for signup. HHS cut the open-enrollment period in half and continues to threaten to end the subsidies that make it affordable. Republicans including Trump have repeatedly claimed the ACA is failing, yet the facts show they have used every opportunity to sabotage it in every conceivable way. This latest refusal to approve the waiver for Iowa just adds fuel to the fire.
The Reynolds’ waiver proposal was simply a temporary measure meant to restore some stability to the market that Republicans have undermined. It would offer some stability by bringing back some insurance companies to the exchange. Iowa’s Wellmark indicated they would return and offer coverage for 2018 if the waiver was approved.
Republicans are fighting among themselves over minor temporary fixes to an insurance market they intentionally destroyed. They spent seven years railing against the ACA and when they finally got complete control, they had no plan to fix anything.
Meanwhile, Democrats have viable alternatives to permanently add competition and implement proven insurance and health care solutions. Nationally, public support for a single payer option or an expansion of Medicare is growing.
Here in Iowa, Democrats in the Iowa Legislature plan to offer a proven Medicaid option for Iowans. The proposal would allow people on the exchange to buy into Medicaid. In addition, it would end the disastrous Reynolds’ Medicaid privatization and return it to the historically successful state control.
by Rick Smith