California’s health insurance exchange said Wednesday it has ordered insurers to add a surcharge to certain policies next year because the Trump administration has yet to commit to paying a key set of consumer subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. The decision to impose a 12.4% surcharge on silver-level health plans in 2018 means the total premium increase for those policies will average nearly 25%, according to Covered California.
Thanks to Trump, Californians will see a big premium increase. But that’s probably not all. Here’s a view of Obamacare from New Hampshire:
I expect to hear from a bunch of folks saying that this is what happens when you pass a highly partisan bill that depends on a good-faith effort by the president to execute it. And sure: in a technical sense that’s true. But have we ever seen anything like this? Could anyone have reasonably foreseen it? We’ve had presidents in the past who let programs languish. We’ve had attempts by Congress to change or cut back on programs. But have we ever had a president who deliberately set out to immiserate millions of people as a means of getting his way?
And by the way: even if Trump succeeds in destroying Obamacare, it’s still the law of the land. Insurers will still be required to insure anyone who asks for coverage, regardless of pre-existing conditions. That’s untenable, and the only response from the insurance industry will be to eliminate individual insurance coverage completely. Somebody on Capitol Hill better cotton to this pretty quick and—somehow—get Trump to lay off. If the Republican Party literally ends up eliminating the entire individual health insurance market, there aren’t words in the dictionary for how big a loss they’ll suffer in 2020.