Faced with the mounting policy failures of Obamacare, liberals in Congress are desperate to shift the blame to President Donald Trump.
Nonsense. Obamacare is responsible for the problems of Obamacare markets: rising costs, undesirable plans and declining choice.
The problems have been evident since day one. In 2014, insurance premiums exploded by an average of 49 percent. From 2013 to 2017, they increased by 105 percent in the individual markets, while deductibles exploded.
Take coverage. The Congressional Budget Office predicted that by 2019, 24 million persons would enroll in the exchanges, but this year only 12 million did. Enrollment started to decline, under President Barack Obama, in 2016. The mandate penalties were increasing, but enrollment was decreasing.
Or take choice. Between 2013 and 2018, the number of insurers in the individual markets declined from 395 to 181. Today, exchange enrollees in 52 percent of the nation’s counties have only one insurer. Meanwhile, plans have narrow provider networks of doctors and specialists, thus reducing patient access — a phenomenon first noted by the CBO in 2014.
President Trump is proposing to expand choices. He would allow small businesses and their workers to join together more easily in association health plans. He would expand health reimbursement accounts to pay insurance premiums tax free, and allow persons to sign up for short-term health plans for a year, rather than just three months, a blessed relief for those who are between jobs.
These alternatives will reduce consumers’ premium costs, expand insurance coverage, and allow people to choose what they like, instead of what Washington forces them to have.
President Trump isn’t forcing anyone to do or to buy anything. If you like your Obamacare plan, you can keep it. For those who want better choices than those on Obamacare’s sinking ship, President Trump is providing the lifeboats until Congress can finish the job.
This piece originally appeared in USA Today