More Americans losing health coverage under Trump: ‘Great’ again? | Editorial

Posted Sep 12, 2019

Here’s the latest report card for the man who made big, extravagant promises of “insurance for everybody,” that would be “phenomenal.”

The Census Bureau’s new data, out this week, found that as many as 1.9 million more Americans had no health insurance in 2018 – including an additional 425,000 uninsured children.

More Americans have lost health care under President Trump, down for the first time since the Affordable Care Act was passed.

It’s the clearest evidence yet that Trump’s policies are eroding progress. They are leaving more Americans just one illness away from financial ruin, or even death.

New Jersey managed to insulate itself from the worst effects, thanks to progressive policies. But elsewhere, the number of uninsured climbed alarmingly.

This is surprising, given that unemployment is down, continuing a trend that began under Obama. Usually, when more people gain coverage from employers, the uninsurance rate drops.

Yet Trump’s efforts to undo his predecessor’s legacy are taking a toll. He did to health care in America what he did to the working stiffs who built his casinos, or the students he drove into debt for a worthless “degree” – promised big, then plundered.

For this much, give thanks: Had Trump succeeded in repealing Obamacare, 23 million more Americans would be uninsured today. He failed by a single vote in Congress.

Unable to kill the law outright, he set out to sabotage it. He worked to repeal its requirement to get insurance, and offered junk plans that lured healthy people out of the marketplace – which raised prices for those still there.

He diminished awareness about enrollment periods by slashing their duration and federal funding for outreach, preventing low income people from signing up.

He particularly discouraged enrollment among immigrants. Lawful immigrants are afraid to sign up even though they are eligible, because of a new Trump policy that counts Medicaid enrollment against those seeking green cards or citizenship.

“People are not only not enrolling, they are coming in [to Medicaid offices] and asking to be disenrolled,” Sara Rosenbaum, an expert in health law and policy, told the Washington Post.

It’s not just adults forgoing benefits, but their kids, many of whom are U.S. citizens. The uninsured rate rose for Latinos more than other group, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities found. And Trump’s efforts to force states to impose harsh restrictions on Medicaid have only added to this climate of fear.

Some proactive governors helped stanch the bleeding. States that adopted Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid, despite Trump administration efforts to discourage them, had a much lower uninsured rate. New Jersey did early on.

We also shored up Obamacare with our own rule requiring enrollment and funds to fortify the law. But Trump still dampened turnout. The number of New Jerseyans who signed up for Medicaid dropped by 44,000 in 2018, likely a result of his anti-immigrant policies.

Enrollees in the Obamacare marketplace decreased by 16,000 – no doubt affected by his policies that diverted funds for promoting sign-ups to anti-Obamacare propaganda. Our state lost more than 80 percent of its funding to help enroll vulnerable residents in 2018.

More Americans lack health insurance today than under Obama. There are objective ways to measure whether America is, in fact, being restored to greatness. Unlike the confidence man who got us here, the Census doesn’t lie.

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