President Trump boasted during his State of the Union address this week about eliminating the “very unpopular” individual mandate that was a key part of the Affordable Care Act, and has claimed at various times over the past year that Obamacare is essentially dead thanks to his initiatives. Critics say his administration’s efforts amount to sabotage of the ACA, but a report released Friday by the president’s Council of Economic Advisers claims that the administration’s deregulatory efforts have not harmed President Obama’s signature health care program – and are saving American billions of dollars to boot.
The CEA report examines the effects of three big changes made by the Trump administration – eliminating the individual mandate, expanding association health plans, and extending short-term plans – and finds that they “generate benefits to Americans that are worth an estimated $450 billion over the next 10 years.”
The report also claims that “these reforms do not ‘sabotage’ the ACA but rather provide a more efficient focus of tax-funded care to those in need.” Thanks to generous subsidies for those who meet the requirements, millions of middle- and lower-income citizens are expected to remain in the program for years to come, the report says, although some upper-income consumers will pay higher premiums due to the rule changes.
Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar of the Associated Press says that the CEA report “tries to shift the Trump administration’s combative rhetoric on health care, suggesting changes to the Affordable Care Act under President Donald Trump do not fundamentally undermine the health law.”
Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation said the report suggests that the White House is moving away from its public war on Obamacare. He also said that the savings claimed by the CEA sounded a bit high, and pointed out that the Trump administration’s initiatives come with real costs: “fewer people insured, less comprehensive insurance, and higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions.”