Letter to the Editor: Gallagher and Johnson Complicit in Trump’s Quiet Assault on ACA

Since failing to legislatively repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Donald Trump has been busy dismantling it through a series of executive orders that have reduced its coverage and effectiveness, made health insurance markets unstable, and undermined the financial protection the ACA provides to millions of Americans.

On his first day in office, Trump issued a 532-page executive order that suppressed enrollment, reduced the contents of the minimal benefit package that could be offered by qualifying plans, and cut the open-enrollment period from 12 to six weeks. Another change was that those wanting to purchase coverage outside of the open-enrollment period must now submit a complex, special application and be deemed qualified for special enrollment due to a life-altering event such as the loss of employer coverage or the birth of a child. Other Trump budget cuts include 90 percent for advertising and 42 percent for the navigators who provide assistance in selecting a plan. These changes have suppressed ACA enrollment: the number of uninsured increased in 2018 and is expected to increase again this year.

Another Trump executive order dropped the ACA requirement that health plans include 10 essential health services and empowered states to allow short-term, lower-quality plans to be sold, opening the door to what some have predicted will be a “race to the bottom.” He also repealed the individual-coverage mandate, which required individuals to either have insurance coverage or pay a penalty. The mandate is essential to ensuring the largest possible pool of insured people, thereby better enabling lower premium prices and a more stable health-insurance market. Trump’s administration has joined Texas-led litigation seeking to invalidate the ban on preexisting-condition exclusions.

While Trump has sabotaged the ACA, Ron Johnson and Mike Gallagher have said and done nothing. Let them know you want them to protect the ACA and keep health care accessible and affordable for everyone. Health care in America is not just another commodity. It is part of our common good. It is a fundamental human right.

Jack Fiedler 

Sister Bay, Wisconsin