Why did it become unaffordable? The political sabotaging of Obamacare

Corrupt politicians have been screaming at the top of their lungs that the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) is headed towards a death spiral. Premiums have been increasing dramatically in recent years and, without action by Congress, will continue to rise dramatically. By all appearances Obamacare has been a massive failure…OR IS IT?

The truth: the ACA was sabotaged by its staunch opponents in Washington (like Chuck Fleischmann) to make you think it doesn’t work. How? Let’s take a look.

One of the biggest efforts of sabotage stems from the opposition’s actions in 2015. In 2015, Congress added a provision to H.R. 2029 The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 that essentially stripped funding for risk-corridors and forced insurance companies to either leave the marketplace, go out of business, or raise their premiums.

What’s a Risk Corridor?
A risk corridor was a mechanism put in place for years 2014, 2015 and 2016 of Obamacare. It was designed to remove some of the uncertainty for insurers while participating in the new program. The ACA was brand new, and insurance companies couldn’t accurately determine how to assess risk and set premiums for the exchange without having had previous experience in an exchange. Because of this uncertainty, some companies were anticipated to lose money in the first few years while others were going to make money. What the risk corridor did was take some of the excess profit from the insurers that did well and redistribute it to the insurers that didn’t fair as well, helping ensure that in the first three years of the program every insurance company that participated in the exchange was able to adjust to the competing market and eventually able to turn a profit (thereby encouraging them to stay in the exchange which would increase competition and drive down costs).

  • A couple of side notes on risk corridors:
    • Risk corridors were a mechanism successfully used by the George W. Bush administration for Medicare Part D.
    • They funded insurance companies during the fledgling phase of the exchange program and were also designed to help keep free market and competition healthy by keeping new insurance co-ops in the exchange to help drive down the costs of premiums.

So If Risk Corridors Were So Great, What Was The Problem?
Politicians, like Marco Rubio who were staunchly opposed to the ACA, set their sites on sabotaging risk corridors by calling them “taxpayer-funded bailouts for insurance companies.” What he and other anti-ACA politicians like Chuck Fleischmann did not disclose is that risk corridors were funded by the excess profits of the insurers in the exchange, and remaining budget funds within the Department of Health and Human Services. Rubio and his supporters then took further action and introduced a provision in 2015 to H.R. 2029 The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016. The line item reads:

“(Sec. 225) Prohibits specified funds provided by this division from being used for payments relating to the risk corridors program established by PPACA.”

They essentially gutted the ability of the ACA to help protect us and insurers from the anticipated losses in the first years of its inception and now we are the ones paying the higher cost of premiums. They also effectively destroyed the fledgling insurance co-ops that entered into the market that would have helped bring down costs of premiums through competition but instead were essentially stripped of their ability to receive the vital risk corridor payments and either went out of business or left the exchange all together. Chuck Fleischmann, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker all voted in favor of this bill and destroying your access to affordable healthcare.

How Else is the ACA Getting Sabotaged?

Trump’s Executive Order “Reducing ‘Economic Burden’ of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”
An executive order to reduce the so-called “economic burden” of the ACA, was signed in early 2017 and had the following results:

  • The IRS Stopped Enforcing the Individual Mandate – Drastically reducing the number of healthy people who sign up through the Exchange (this reduces the cost-sharing distribution which is necessary for ANY insurance plan to be viable)
  • Halted Advertising for the Affordable Care Act – Further reducing the number of people signing up for the ACA
  • Department of Health and Human Services Threatens to Pull Subsidies on a Regular Basis – Causing insurance companies to pull out of the marketplace AND for those remaining to RAISE THEIR RATES DUE TO THE UNCERTAINTY OF THEIR FUNDING.

Watch Senator Chris Murphy explain the intentional sabotaging of our healthcare system in the video below.

Don’t Forget About the Sabotaged Medicaid Expansion!
After the Supreme Court made the ACA’s Medicaid expansion by the states OPTIONAL in 2012, 19 states opted out of the expansion (INCLUDING TENNESSEE).

By choosing to refuse the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, 19 states left millions of their citizens without assistance for obtaining health insurance coverage. This results in more people who don’t have access to care, increased severity of sickness for those individuals who didn’t have care previously and increased uncompensated care to hospitals. This contributes to the ever-increasing problem of hospital closures which then devastates the economy in that community and the surrounding regions.

The bottom line? 
Increasing sickness equals increasing healthcare costs to insurance companies (and you!) which equals increasing insurance premiums for all of us.

So Then What Happened?
Obamacare took the blame in the public eye and was deemed a “broken system”…further opening the door for the potentially devastating “repeal and replace” effort we’re faced with now.

So Now What?
Now that you know the REAL REASON insurance premiums went up we ask you to support the next actionable items:

    • Keep raising your voice and tell them the House and Senate bills are NOT ACCEPTABLE!!!
    • Keep pushing for a single payer system.
    • VOTE. THEM. OUT.

If elected, I pledge to protect your healthcare rights!

“It’s time to elect government officials who are TRAINED to CARE for you.”
Dr. Danielle Mitchell
Running for the 3rd Congressional District of Tennessee

#HealthCareForAll @dmmd4tncongress