Next year, a family of four will see their health care premiums increase by $2,530, thanks to policies supported by Congresswoman Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) and the Trump administration. Pervasive efforts to undermine the popular Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, are bearing fruit, and Californians will soon pay the price.
A new analysis from the Center for American Progress (CAP) looks at how Republican sabotage efforts will impact health care premiums in every congressional district in the country.
In California’s 45th Congressional District, currently represented by Walters, individuals will see an $800 annual increase.
Those hit the hardest by new Republican policies will be older Americans. A 55-year-old couple will see an increase of $2,790, or more than $230 per month.
The study looked at the impact of two major changes that took place in 2018.
First, the unpopular Republican tax bill contained a health care provision repealing the ACA’s individual mandate, which Walters supported. This change, according to CAP, will lead to fewer healthy individuals signing up for health insurance, leaving a remaining pool of less healthy people, therefore increasing the cost of premiums.
Second, the Trump administration’s decision to expand access to “junk insurance” products. These products are not governed by ACA requirements such as protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions or coverage for pregnant women.
The result of these changes to health insurance is higher health care premiums. Low-income recipients of ACA-compliant plans will likely be protected by an increase in subsidies, many middle-class families will not have such assistance.
Walters campaigned on a platform of lowering the cost of health insurance. Before the last election, Walters shared an article via Twitter lamenting that premiums were set to rise in 2017 and promising Republicans had “a better way.”
While Walters succeeded in making some changes to health care policy, the totality of changes she voted for did not make it into law. Walters voted for a Republican health care bill in the House of Representatives that would have removed protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions.
If Walters had her way, insurance companies would have been free to “charge higher premiums to people with cancer, diabetes and other common preexisting conditions — even pregnancy.”
Republicans were determined to undermine the ACA, but what would have happened if they did nothing? What if Trump and Republicans simply supported and enforced the ACA?
A separate study by the Brookings Institution determined that health care premiums would be falling in 2019 if Republicans had simply left current policy alone. But Walters was unwilling to do so.
If Republicans maintain control of the House of Representatives after the 2018 midterm elections, the party has said they will seek to continue their health care sabotage.
That “better way” Walters promised will already cost residents in her district anywhere from $800 to almost $2,800 more in 2019. There is no telling the cost if Republicans succeed in fully dismantling the ACA.