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The Unaffordable Care Act’s Death by Many Drops
President Donald Trump has made clear his disdain for his predecessor’s hallmark policy, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Even before Republicans failed to repeal it last year, Trump took matters into his own hands. Through reinterpreting laws, exploiting its loopholes, and making agency-level rules, the administration has tried to make it irrelevant by creating alternatives. One of the things the administration did this year was to expand short-term, limited duration insurance plans from three months to up to three years. These plans don’t have to follow Obamacare’s rules, which means they often have much lower premiums. Because they are cheaper, they are expected to attract people who either don’t have coverage or who face high premiums with Obamacare plans. In November, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) encouraged states to apply for waivers that exempt them from some key Obamacare requirements. These waivers allow states to experiment with ways to improve their local health care markets as long as they meet certain criteria. Also this year, the administration put out guidance on how to avoid the tax penalty called the Individual Mandate. Probably the most unpopular aspect of Obamacare, the mandate imposes a tax penalty on people who don’t have health insurance. A judge in Taexas ruled Dec. 14, that the tax was unconstitutional, thus making the whole law unconstitutional. But the case is likely to be in the courts for some time yet, and CMS administrator Seema Verma said no one will be losing their coverage because of it. One notable aspect about the case, which just shows Trump’s disdain for Obamacare, is that his Justice Department decided not to defend it in this lawsuit. Trump has also been accused of trying to lower the number of people signing up through the federal health insurance exchanges by slashing the budget for navigators. Like their name implies, navigators help people navigate the website to sign up for health insurance. However preliminary data shows that there’s only a 3.5 percent decrease in the number of people enrolled this year. So far, Trump hasn’t been able to get rid of Obamacare, but he is doing everything in his power to weaken it.