In Focus: Trump’s Disastrous Coronavirus Response, Volume #1
March 18, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic in the United States is getting worse because of President Trump. Full stop. The seeds of this public health disaster were planted on President Trump’s first day in office.
Volume #1: Trump’s War on American Health Care
From his first day in office, President Trump has shown that he doesn’t value the American people’s health care or public health. In fact, his first act as president was to sign an executive order instructing all his cabinet agencies to begin dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA). What has followed has been nearly four years of an administration that has done more to rip health care away from Americans than to help them gain it. And when President Trump’s plan to repeal the law in Congress failed, he and his administration continued their campaign to sabotage the law at every turn while pursuing its complete dismantling in the courts.
What does all this have to do with the coronavirus crisis in the U.S.? Quite a lot:
As a result of President Trump’s sabotage of the law, the uninsured rate has increased every year he has been in office — and millions more Americans are uninsured as a result. That’s millions of Americans who lack coverage if they get sick from the coronavirus or develop long-term complications. Worse still, he is pushing a lawsuit that’s now before the Supreme Court to overturn the ACA, which could lead to the elimination of coverage for more than 20 million Americans and the termination of Medicaid expansion, end protections for as many as 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions and spike costs for millions of others, including seniors.
Junk insurance plans, which have been pushed by the Trump administration to undermine the ACA, do not provide comprehensive coverage and are therefore not required to cover COVID-19 tests, which can cost thousands of dollars. These plans come with high out-of-pocket costs, large deductibles, and no guarantee that any treatment for coronavirus and related health problems would be covered by such plans.
And of course, President Trump’s relentless war on the ACA and repeated efforts to slash Medicaid and Medicare have created an entire administration that devalues the health care of the American people.
While Congress is focused on the immediate response — shoring up our health care system, protecting workers and small businesses from economic devastation and stimulating the economy, among other things — President Trump’s efforts to repeal and sabotage American health care have real and significant consequences for the coronavirus response. The president and his allies must:
Drop the lawsuit that threatens the health care of millions.
Eliminate junk plans, which undermine the ACA and don’t guarantee coverage or protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Re-open open enrollment so Americans can shop for plans and get covered.
Withdraw unnecessary and burdensome Medicaid waivers, such as those that permit block grants and work requirements, that undermine coverage.