It’s official: GOP sabotage to blame for double-digit premium increases

Congresswoman Mimi Walters

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has spoken: Americans are about to see major spikes in their health insurance premiums. And the Republican Party is squarely to blame for it.

Republicans failed to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, so instead Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and California Republicans like Reps. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) and Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) chipped away at the law’s foundation. And now the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirmed that Americans are about to pay the very real price.

According to the CBO’s analysis, health insurance premiums will rise by double-digit percentages in 2019.

Insurers are expected “to raise premiums for benchmark plans offered through the marketplaces in 2019 by an average of roughly 15 percent over the premiums charged in 2018,” the report notes.

In addition, “premiums for nongroup health insurance will be about 10 percent higher in 2019.”

And what does the CBO say is largely behind these spikes?

Well, they likely wouldn’t happen “if the individual mandate penalty remained in place and was enforced.”

Several states have already released proposed premium hikes, including California. Covered California proposes an 11 percent increase, more than half of which is due to Republican policy changes.

That would be the individual mandate that Trump and the Republicans succeeded in doing away with by cramming the repeal into their unpopular tax bill in December 2017.

Already, Republican policy changes have caused four million Americans to lose health insurance. In the years to come, Republican sabotage will lead to millions more losing their health insurance entirely.

“The number of uninsured people is projected to rise by 3 million in 2019, mainly because of the elimination of the penalty associated with the individual mandate and the higher premiums resulting from that change,” the CBO notes.

And the numbers only get worse the further out one looks.

“That number rises by another 3 million over the following two years, on net, as more people adjust to the fact that they no longer face the mandate penalty,” the report warns.

Despite Republican attempts to deride and demolish it, Obamacare only grew in popularity over the years, as more and more people were finally able to obtain health insurance and access care. The individual mandate was integral to making the overarching system function. It ensured that healthy people would be on the rolls to balance out those with chronic illnesses who have costly health care needs.

In California, twice as many people approve of Obamacare (60 percent) as disapprove (30 percent), according to a recent L.A. Times poll. Yet every single California Republican voted to dismantle the law, a vote that makes the majority of California voters less likely to support them in 2018.

Doing away with the mandate and the associated penalties means that young, generally healthy people may choose to forgo insurance because they don’t want to pay for it. And thus insurers are taking in fewer premiums while paying out a lot in claims for those who are not so fortunate.

And it is those people who will either have to give up their insurance, or break the bank trying to pay for their rising premiums and their medical care.

Republicans have mendaciously claimed that anyone, including cancer patients, can simply go to the emergency room for all of their medical needs. And House Speaker Paul Ryan insisted all along that the only people who might lose their coverage due to his party’s attacks on Obamacare are those who don’t care about keeping it.

Certainly, some of those younger and healthier people may make the choice to go without, now that they’re free from the penalty.

But others in far more dire circumstances will not lose insurance by their own volition. They simply won’t be able to afford to pay for it, thanks to the GOP’s cruel efforts.

Dan Desai Martin contributed to this article.