President Donald Trump on Wednesday bragged about his administration’s move to abandon Obamacare in federal court, telling reporters in the Oval Office that “If the Supreme Court rules that Obamacare is out, we will have a plan that’s far better than Obamacare.”
The comments were, as usual, mostly detail- and fact-free: In an Oval Office meeting with Fabiana Rosales, the wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, Trump claimed the “only difference” between his administration and former President Barack Obama’s “is that we’re administering Obamacare very well.”
“We’ve made it better but it’s still horrible, no good,” Trump said. “It’s something that we can’t live with in this country, because it’s far too expensive for the people.”
In fact, the Trump administration has undermined Obamacare over and over, including by dramatically scaling back funds for advertising and outreach, and for so-called navigator groups that provide free guidance for insurance shoppers. Unlike in previous years, HHS in 2018 never even set a numerical enrollment goal.
“Setting numeric targets would allow HHS to monitor and evaluate its overall performance, a key aspect of federal internal controls,” read a Government Accountability Office report last year.
Trump also eliminated “Cost-Sharing Reduction” payments to insurance companies, which were used to lower costs for qualified consumers, leading to confusion about the true cost of plans. He also undercut a central pillar of the law when he signed a tax bill that eliminated penalties for non-exempt people without health insurance.
As Alice Ollstein (then with TPM) wrote in August last year:
“…most of [what HHS Secretary Alex Azar called the “damage” done by Obamacare] is the result of the Trump administration’s policies, including the repeal of the individual mandate, the sabotage of the 2017 open enrollment period, and most recently, the introduction of skimpy, short-term, off-market insurance plans designed to draw younger and healthier people out of the regulated market.
Trump riffs on health care. pic.twitter.com/Z7RTq0L7mI
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) March 27, 2019