By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has prematurely declared “Obamacare” dead and displayed a misunderstanding of where the money comes from to make the health law work.
A look at his remarks Wednesday about the tax plan he will soon sign into law and its effect on President Barack Obama’s health insurance overhaul:
TRUMP: “Obamacare has been repealed in this bill.”
THE FACTS: It hasn’t. The tax plan ends fines for people who don’t carry health insurance. That’s a major change but far from the dismantling of the law.
Other marquee components of Obama’s law remain, such as the Medicaid expansion serving low-income adults, protections that shield people with pre-existing medical conditions from being denied coverage or charged higher premiums, income-based subsidies for consumers buying individual health insurance policies, the requirement that insurers cover “essential” health benefits, and the mandate that larger employers provide coverage to their workers or face fines.
Also, the tax bill doesn’t repeal fines for uninsured individuals until the start of 2019, meaning the “individual mandate” is still in force for next year unless the administration acts to waive the penalties.
TRUMP: “When you add it all up together, and then you add two things — the individual mandate is being repealed. When the individual mandate is being repealed, that means Obamacare is being repealed because they get their money from the individual mandate. “
THE FACTS: This is also wrong. The fines on people who don’t carry health insurance only provide a small fraction of the financing for the program. Most of the money comes from higher taxes on upper-income people, cuts in Medicare payments to service providers, and other tax increases.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that fines from uninsured people would total $3 billion this year, while the government’s cost for the coverage provided under the health law would total about $117 billion. R.