The rate of uninsured Americans spiked to 16 percent this year, up from 13 percent in 2016. Since Trump and Republicans have taken the reins in Washington, D.C., the number of uninsured Americans has steadily climbed, and a new report from the Commonwealth Fund shows an estimated four million Americans lost coverage just since 2016.
The study points to two major reasons for the increase: lack of action on the federal level to improve weaknesses in the current law, and efforts by the Trump administration to sabotage Obamacare through deep cuts to its advertising and shorter enrollment periods.
And while these new numbers are bleak, the authors of the analysis say it will only get worse. Due to changes Republicans made to the Affordable Care Act and other policies from the Trump administration, including Medicaid work requirements, the report said, “Signs point to further erosion of insurance coverage in 2019.”
Premium increases have already been attributed to Republican policies. As SoCal Daily Media previously reported:
In 2017, insurers announced that 2018 rates in California were on pace to rise 12 or 13 percent. But then, in October 2017, California insurers announced a dramatic increase “due to uncertainty over whether President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans will continue to authorize billions of dollars in reimbursement payments to insurers,” bringing the total increase to 25 percent.
Another report, by Covered California, estimates health insurance premiums are set to increase by up to 30 percent in California next year. Nationwide, premiums are set to increase by up to 90 percent in the next three years, due to Republican changes to the ACA.
Republicans like Congresswoman Mimi Walters (Irvine) and Congressman Steve Knight (Palmdale) promised a “better way.” But since Republicans have been in charge, health care has become dramatically more expensive and millions have lost access to care. And the middle class will be hit hard.
“The middle class will be priced out of insurance in about a third of America,” Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California told the Washington Post.
It is no secret that Walters and Knight has sought to dismantle the ACA, or Obamacare, since taking control of Congress. Before Republicans controlled both Congress and the White House, “the individual insurance markets were largely stabilizing in terms of enrollment and issuer profitability,” according to Covered California.
Republicans had an opportunity to work in a bipartisan manner to improve health care policy in the country, an option favored by the majority of Californians. But instead of following the will of voters, Knight and Walters pliantly followed the lead of Trump and Republican Speaker Paul Ryan to try to repeal it. The Republican-only bill, which failed in the Senate, would have removed protections for Americans with pre-existing medical conditions, and it sought to impose an “age tax,” according to AARP.
As millions more are left without health insurance, and the cost of health care increases, voters are taking notice. More than 2 in 3 Americans are “very” or “somewhat” worried that rate hikes will make coverage unaffordable. Further, a poll from Kaiser says more than 1 in 5 voters want candidates to talk about health care costs during the upcoming campaign.
Health care premiums for 2019 will be officially unveiled in October, just weeks before voters go to the polls. According to New York Magazine, “a giant spike in premiums — on the eve of November’s elections — would (almost certainly) make health care an even more salient concern for the electorate than it is today.”