Guest: TPM Congressional reporter Alice Ollstein | Also: Trump continues N. Korea threats, experts worry, diplomatic solutions remain...for now...
By Brad Friedman on 8/11/2017, 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the Trump Administration continues to destabilize both the Korean Peninsula and the U.S. health care insurance markets. [Audio link to show follows below.]

President Trump continued to increase his threatening rhetoric against North Korea (and to play the victim himself, as is his wont) on Friday, even as experts on the region see little new in the North's own bluster and saber-rattling. Instead, they worry that the Trump Administration's own unpredictable rhetoric and instability could lead to a misunderstanding or miscommunication that could, itself, result in military action by either side, the results of which could be catastrophic.

Still, there remain diplomatic ways out, via Russia and China, from the seemingly deadly collision course, so long as those options are not closed off by Trump. There are even direct, ongoing back-channel communications between representatives of both the US and NK, as reported on our previous show and confirmed today by the Associated Press.

Then, on the heels of the recently failed Republican attempt in Congress to repeal and/or replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA or 'ObamaCare'), new polling finds the public strongly prefers that Congress and the President move on to other issues, shore up funding for the ObamaCare exchanges where needed, and will otherwise hold both Republicans and the Administration responsible for further problems with U.S. health care coverage.

Nonetheless, the Trump Administration continues to take deliberate measures to undermine the landmark federal health care law, even as those actions have resulted in double-digit increases in premiums rates for 2018 across the country --- including for non-ObamaCare customers --- according to insurers. To date, the Administration has sabotaged the ACA by cutting the length of the open enrollment period in half, has cancelled advertising to let the public know about it, has used those resources instead on propaganda to attack the federal law, has ended some $20 million in contracts for in-person sign-up assistance in 18 under-served cities, and has threatened to end Cost-Sharing Reduction (CSR) payments to insurers for low-income individuals which, according to my guest today, could "send the market into a tailspin" if the President makes good on those threats.

Today, we are joined by Congressional reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN of Talking Points Memo to discuss her new exclusive revealing yet another way in which the Administration appears to be radically undermining the continuing success of the ACA, this time in the vastly under-served Latino community.

In this case, Ollstein explains, "It's more about what they are not doing." She explains that, at this time last year, and in previous years in advance of the annual open enrollment period beginning in November, hundreds of health care advocacy groups "were really revving up with tons of outside groups, and corporations, and religious organizations, health organizations, to get the word out and work with the government to promote information about open enrollment."

This year, however, after speaking with dozens of such groups, she says "every single one said" they have heard nothing from the government. "And I found a very stark pattern, particularly with the groups that focused on Latino enrollment," she tells me. "Latinos have the highest rate of un-insurance out of any racial demographic. They also disproportionately live in states like Texas and Florida that did not expand Medicaid. Those partnerships for outreach, leading up to open enrollment, are so far not happening this year."

The results, she reports, could be disastrous not only for the Latino Community, but for the health care market itself around the country. We also discuss what Trump and both Congressional Republicans and Democrats are considering for their various next steps regarding federal health care law.

[Update 8/14/2017: Ollstein follows up her exclusive with another, finding that it's not only Latino groups which had previously partnered with the government, but are now being ignored by the White House in the lead up to the open enrollment period.]

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report before late-breaking news on Trump's announcement that he is now also considering military action against Venezuela...


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