From here on out, it’s Trumpcare


Humana has announced that it is withdrawing from the Obamacare individual marketplace, and won’t offer coverage for 2018. Mark Bertolini, the CEO of insurance giant Aetna, told investors in a conference call that his company will probably do the same.

“We have no intention of being in the market for 2018,” Bertolini said. “Currently where we stand, we’d have to have markets worked up, prices worked up for April 2017 in order to apply, and there is no possible way that we’ll be prepared to do that given the unclear nature of where regulation’s headed.”

Since those statements, Bertolini has waffled a bit on his company’s plans, but I sure understand his predicament. The insurance industry is built upon the concept of predictability, and as Bertolini explained, companies have no way to predict what the individual market will look like a year from now. All they know is that congressional Republicans and President Trump have promised big changes between now and then.

To add to the uncertainty, Trump signed an executive order on his first day in office basically telling his administration to undermine the Affordable Care Act by any means at its disposal. So the Department of Health and Human Services immediately canceled $5 million in TV ad buys that were intended to draw the last-minute, healthier consumers that insurance companies need.

In another act of sabotage, the IRS has announced that due to Trump’s order, it will no longer require those filing tax returns to state whether they are covered by health insurance, a move that will make the tax penalty for going uncovered much more difficult to enforce. Without that tax penalty pushing healthier Americans to buy coverage, the whole financial structure of the system collapses.

In short, in the individual market at least, Obamacare is already dead. Welcome to Trumpcare.

What does that mean? It means that whatever happens from here on out, the Republicans own every bit of it. They have created and fed this uncertainty, they have sabotaged the market, they have refused to even consider the relatively small fixes needed to update the current system. More importantly, with total control of the House, Senate and White House, they have unfettered power and responsibility. By this time next year, there will be no excuse whatsoever for not having their “better way” up and running so voters can render judgment in the 2018 midterms.

And they won’t. The House GOP “plan” released by Speaker Paul Ryan this week amounts to little more than a wishlist that the House itself is unlikely to pass. More than a month ago, Trump claimed that his transition team was close to completing its own plan, and would announce it as soon as the Senate confirmed U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Georgia as secretary of health and human services.

“We’re going to be submitting — as soon as our secretary’s approved, almost simultaneously, shortly thereafter, a plan. It’ll be repeal and replace. It will be essentially simultaneously,” Trump said. “Probably the same day, could be the same hour.”

Price was confirmed at 2 a.m. on Feb, 10, but there’s still not the slightest hint that a Trump plan exists or is even being drafted. They are caught in a funhouse mirror of their own devising, with no idea which way to turn or where the exit might be.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Opinion: It’s not that hard to be clear-eyed about Charlottesville
Opinion: It’s not that hard to be clear-eyed about Charlottesville

President Donald Trump speaks to the media in the lobby of Trump Tower, Tuesday, New York. (AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais) I’m back after a couple of days of reporting outside Atlanta. Somehow, we are still talking about the propriety of those who assembled under and against the banners of Nazi swastikas...
Opinion: A leading Georgia Democrat embraces a nasty brand of politics

If not for Charlottesville, the big political story this week — locally, anyway — would have been the self-immolation of Georgia’s Democratic Party. By now, you’ve probably heard the story. Way-left activists from across America were in Atlanta this past weekend for the annual Netroots Nation gathering. Both of Georgia&rsquo...
Readers Write: Aug. 17

Dead zones a troubling result of runoff It is troubling news to read in the July 31 article that excessive use of nitrogen-based fertilizer and increased rainfall due to global warming, is leading to larger than normal algae blooms in our ocean waters, “Warming to worsen dead zones, algae blooms choking U.S. waters.” The fertilizer runoff...
Opinion: Heaven comes with blisters, poison ivy and mosquitos

ON THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL, Calif. — This will make me sound grouchy and misanthropic, but I sometimes wonder if what makes America great isn’t so much its people as its trees and mountains. In contrast to many advanced countries, we have a vast and spectacular publicly owned wilderness, mostly free and available to all. The affluent have...
Opinion: Trump owns what is coming next
Opinion: Trump owns what is coming next

(AP) In his comments Tuesday, President Trump claimed to know everything about what had happened in Charlottesville; he claimed to know more than almost anyone on the subject, especially his critics. If that is true, then Trump must know that what happened in Charlottesville had little to do with peaceful protest or the preservation...
More Stories