Sen. Maggie Hassan: Trump’s health care games will cost you

  • Hassan

For the Monitor
Published: 5/24/2017 1:51:49 PM

We should be working together, across party lines, to help ease the burden of health care costs that are squeezing far too many hard-working families across New Hampshire and America.

Unfortunately, President Trump and Washington Republicans are instead sabotaging our existing health care system and sending premiums skyrocketing for families – all to try to convince people to support a bad Trumpcare plan that would make health care more expensive for millions of Americans.

The sabotage attempts started almost immediately after President Trump’s inauguration, when his administration pulled down advertisements that were intended to help inform Americans how and when they could enroll in coverage.

Then President Trump signed an executive order instructing federal agencies to try to go around Congress and take administrative steps to undermine the Affordable Care Act, leading to increased costs for people across the country.

And just this week, President Trump’s administration announced that it will continue to play games with the possibility of withholding federal funds for “cost-sharing reductions,” which help lower deductibles, co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses for individuals with health insurance plans in the marketplace. As insurance companies approach the deadline to set prices for premiums in 2018, it is important to have stability and certainty from the federal government. Instead, President Trump and Republicans in Washington are creating instability and chaos. 

New Hampshire’s governor, Chris Sununu, has raised similar concerns, writing that the uncertainty regarding cost-sharing reductions “could lend itself to market disruption, including discontinuance of certain product offerings, or possible market withdrawals, leaving the market with lessened competition and fewer plan choices for New Hampshire consumers.”

A Los Angeles Times report underscored the damage that the Trump administration’s health care sabotage attempts are already having, highlighting comments from experts who said that “the Trump administration has significantly exacerbated turmoil in the marketplaces in recent months, contributing to rising premiums and the threat of marketplaces exits.”

In New Hampshire, all four insurers have preliminarily indicated that they will remain in the marketplace for 2018. But if the Trump administration and Republicans in Washington continue efforts to sabotage our health care system, New Hampshire could see reduced competition and increases in premiums.

We all know that the Affordable Care Act needs critical and urgent improvements in certain areas. What we need to focus on is making common-sense improvements that will lower costs, not passing a Trumpcare plan that would mean you pay more out-of-pocket costs, you would lose protections for pre-existing conditions such as having cancer, diabetes or asthma, and older Americans would be charged an age tax, which would be especially harmful if you are between the ages of 50-65.  

During my time as governor of New Hampshire, we proved that it is possible to find bipartisan compromise to strengthen our health care system. Working across party lines, we passed and reauthorized Medicaid expansion, which has provided more than 50,000 hard-working Granite Staters with quality, affordable health insurance, including coverage for substance misuse and behavioral health services. And when we expanded Medicaid, competition increased in New Hampshire’s health insurance marketplace – strengthening options and affordability for consumers. 

As your senator, I will continue working to take that approach and find ways to work with members of both parties to improve the health care system.

But I will not stand by as President Trump and Washington Republicans seek to destabilize the health insurance market, increasing costs for hard-working families and undermining the health and financial well-being of far too many Granite Staters and Americans.

At rallies and protests across New Hampshire and America, people are speaking out and making clear that we will not stand for a Trumpcare bill that makes health care more expensive for worse care. We must also make it clear that we will not accept Trumpcare by sabotage either. 

(Maggie Hassan is New Hampshire’s junior U.S. senator.)

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