President Donald J. Trump, flanked by real people with real horror stories in Cincinnati, Ohio, renewed his call for the Senate to pass healthcare reform. Anthem Inc (NYSE:ANTM) announced Tuesday that it will not participate in Ohio’s ObamaCare exchange, leaving roughly 20 of the state’s counties without any insurers.
In an effort to project urgency, President Trump was joined by two families—one from Dayton, Ohio, and another from Louisville, Kentucky—who have suffered as a result of regulations, cost increases and penalties due to ObamaCare.
“Thank you for being here and sharing your stories today and giving voice to millions and millions and millions of Americans who are going through turmoil right now. Absolute turmoil,” he said. “Health care is about so much more than dollars and cents. It’s about real people.”
The President hosted congressional leaders at the White House Tuesday to discuss his legislative agenda for the remainder of the year, which included the American Health Care Act (AHCA). House Republican, whom President Trump praised in his speech Wednesday, passed the AHCA on May 4 after weeks of negotiations and direct presidential involvement.
But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell established working committees to basically start all over. Meanwhile, individual insurance markets in Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Iowa, Nebraska and other states have either collapsed or on the verge of collapsing under the weight of insolvency created by ObamaCare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The White House also put an emphasis on the President’s desire to sign tax reform before the end of the year, though repealing ObamaCare beforehand was seen as a precursor. A Dodd-Frank repeal bill was also discussed.
Regarding the women from Ohio, President Trump said that she had an affordable plan before the ACA “that worked for her family.”
“Then came ObamaCare. She liked her doctor, wanted to keep her doctor, but she could not keep her doctor,” he said. “He [the doctor] wasn’t allowed under the rules and regulations unless she paid an additional $50,000 in out-of-pocket expenses for the birth of her precious little girl, just born, Colette.”
Their premiums have quadrupled and their deductible increased to a whopping $15,000.
“Before ObamaCare,” President Trump said pointing to the small-business owner from Kentucky, “his 11 employees enjoyed multiple options for high-quality, affordable health care. Everybody was happy.”
“Then came ObamaCare, and now they have fewer choices. Premiums are 150% higher,” he said. “It’s amazing. But you’re not alone. In Alaska it just went up 200%. Creating new jobs is not really an option for [him] because his health insurance is so expensive.”
Leader McConnell and other Republican senators did emerge from the meeting on Tuesday with far more optimism than they had beforehand. He now is pressing for a vote before the July Fourth recess.
“I don’t know what it looks like legislatively … the key word is promising,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said after more than two hours of meetings. “There better be [a vote this month], because this is not like fine wine, it does not get better with age.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy. R-La., who is on record as having concerns about the AHCA, now says he is comfortable with and “very encouraged” by Republicans’ proposals. But President Trump is clearly trying to turn up the pressure, highlighting the real damage it has done and will do to millions of Americans around the country.
“Across America premiums are skyrocketing, insurers are fleeing, and the American people are paying much more for much worse coverage. The coverage is horrendous. It’s horrendous,” President Trump added. “Since the law’s provision took effect, premiums have exploded by an average of 86% in Ohio and 75% in Kentucky. And those states are minor compared to others.”
He cited the decision by Anthem and explained what that means for Ohioans next year, when 20 counties in The Buckeye State will not have a single insurer.
“So 93,650 families paid $60.5 million dollars in penalties instead of purchasing unaffordable ObamaCare health plans that didn’t meet their needs,” he said. “ObamaCare is in a total death spiral, and the problems will only get worse if Congress fails to act. ObamaCare is dead. I’ve been saying it for a long time. Everybody knows it, everybody that wants to report fairly about it knows.”
Previously, Democratic senators in states President Trump carried overwhelmingly in November did indicate they were open to Republicans’ plans, including Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. John Tester, D-Mt. At one point, Sen. Tester even admitted he was open to an all-out repeal.
But Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has leaned on members hard in order to whip them back into party compliance, which plans to obstruct the President at all costs.
“We spent a lot of time yesterday with [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and a lot of the great senators. They happened to be Republicans because we’re having no help — it’s only obstruction from the Democrats,” President Trump said. “The Democrats are destroying health care in this country. We have had no help. We will get no votes, no matter what we do.”