Columnists Opinion

Trump’s sabotage of Obamacare could impact your health

Throughout his campaign for president, Donald Trump said that one of his first orders of business as president of the United States would be to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Fortunately, he has failed.

Here are the facts that everyone needs to know: The Affordable Care Act is alive and well, and you and your family are eligible to apply for, or adjust, your Covered California health coverage plan between now and Jan. 31.

During my seven years in Congress, I have listened to Republicans lament that if they were in charge of the entire U.S. government (meaning the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House), they would immediately repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Then they got their wish last January and attempted to repeal health care for millions of Americans. After failing, the White House and Republicans in Congress began an effort to sabotage the system by reducing funding for outreach to alert people about the annual sign-up period and by reducing the amount of time people have to sign up for coverage.

We are fortunate in California to have another month and a half to enroll or to update our coverage plans. It is incumbent on us to go all out and make sure we sign up before the end of January. We must go out in force and sign up. We must call friends and family members in California and in the eight other states that have an extended deadline.

The effort to sabotage the health care system began immediately after inauguration day. Right after he took office, Trump’s White House instructed the Department of Health and Human Services to remove useful guidance about the Affordable Care Act, including benefits of the program and ways to enroll, from their website. A few weeks later, the White House proposed new rules for enrollment — tightening procedures and cutting the health law’s open enrollment period in half.

The White House has continued issuing statements citing death spirals and other doomsday prophesies with the intent to purposefully sabotage the Affordable Care Act and it has led to further instability in the health insurance marketplace. In August, the Trump administration decided it was safe to take a less covert approach to sabotage by overtly decreasing spending on promotion of enrollment from $100 million to $10 million as well as cutting funding from enrollment programs.

Perhaps worst of all, the White House has opened the door for the sale of plans with fewer benefits and protections, allowing health insurance companies to sell short-term plans that are exempt from requirements including hospital care, maternity care and mental health services. Those plans are also exempt from rules prohibiting insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Covered California could be more affordable than you think. During last year’s enrollment period, eight out of 10 applicants qualified for financial help and for most people that meant they could find insurance premiums between $50 and $100 per month. In addition to possible financial assistance, free and confidential enrollment help is also available.

The cynical effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act is part of this administration’s larger agenda to erase from U.S. history the accomplishments of President Barack Obama. Trump would like his shrinking base of followers to forget the achievements of the first African American president, who served for eight years without a hint of scandal.

It is clear that Trump suffers from a profound inferiority complex — that’s the basis of his obsession with President Obama and his sabotage is a symptom of this complex. To combat his sabotage, Democrats in Congress have taken it upon themselves to promote enrollment efforts and ensure their success.

Be sure to take the time to learn about your options and if you have any questions about this open enrollment period, please do not hesitate to contact my office. Our system is strongest when we all participate. Fight back making sure you and everyone you know signs up for Covered California before Jan. 31.

Rep. Karen Bass is the congresswoman from California’s 37th District, which includes Culver City, Leimert Park, the Crenshaw District and parts of South Los Angeles. She is a new contributing columnist for The Wave.