On today's BradCast, Donald Trump is enraged. Again. [Audio link to show follows below.]
He's furious that the media keeps accurately pointing out that many are suffering and dying in Puerto Rico following two hurricanes and his Administration's botched federal response which has left most of the island's 3.4 million American citizens without power, half of them without potable running water and, as senior FEMA officials reportedly admit to The Guardian, hundreds of thousands of them are without food altogether, amidst a "massive shortage of meals" some three weeks after Hurricane Maria! So, on Thursday morning, the President of the United States threatened to pull out federal disaster assistance all together.
He's "livid" that President Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran and six other nations is actually working as it was designed, despite what he was told by Fox "News" for so many years. So, after he "threw a fit", his handlers have reportedly been scrambling to present President ManChild a new option in time for the latest Congressionally-mandated "certification" deadline for the deal that he can somehow live with, according to Washington Post.
And, of course, he remains incensed by the fact that Obama's Affordable Care Act has helped some 30 million Americans obtain access to health care coverage. Even his own Dept. of Health and Human Services was forced to admit that, like the Iran anti-nuclear agreement, it's "working as intended". So, as he has been impotent at getting his Republican Congress to "repeal and replace" the law that Fox "News" swore to him --- for years! --- was a "total disaster," Trump continued his effort to undermine the Affordable Care Act. On Thursday, he held another big splashy Executive Order signing ceremony to help "save the American people from the nightmare of ObamaCare".
We're joined today by IGOR VOLSKY of the Center for American Progress, to explain what Thursday's new EO actually does and doesn't do, and whether, as Trump claimed, it will "lower premium costs", provide "great, great health care," and "cost the United States government virtually nothing."
Volsky, who we've been discussing health care reform with for more than a decade, now co-hosts, with Michele Jawando, his own weekly podcast "Thinking CAP". He tells me today that Trump's new, one-page Order asks federal agencies to develop new regulations for ObamaCare that will have to be developed, go through public-comment periods and face potential legal challenge. "He's not just flicking a switch and making these reforms. It's going to take a matter of months. So we're going to be able to use those months --- and I mean by 'we', of course, I mean the very same coalition that defeated the legislative effort to repeal Obamacare --- we're now going to be able to regroup and defeat this, as well."
He warns the new directive, which would allow skimpier health care policies to be sold, will ultimately result in some healthier people paying less, but finding themselves with fewer benefits when they actually need them, while raising the costs of premiums for everyone else in the risk pool, including sick people.
"Who will be impacted the most?," he asks rhetorically, "The answer would be middle-class Americans. Because Obamacare has tax credits that it offers to lower-income Americans. But Americans in the middle-class, they may not qualify for the tax credits, and they would face the full burden of the price increase that results from younger people leaving the risk pool. So they would have to pay more for health care coverage." Another result could also be the very same "death spiral" for the insurance markets that Trump and fellow Republicans have been claiming the largely successful Affordable Care Act is already facing. Also, a rise in premiums means the federal government (tax payers) will have to shell out more to cover some of the costs for those who qualify for subsidies on the ACA exchanges.
"Basically, everything you hear Trump criticize ObamaCare for --- when he says that it's failing, when he says that premiums are increasing, when he says that there are no insurers offering coverage --- just know that this series of executive actions [including cutting the Open Enrollment period in half, and other sabotage measures] actually makes sure that that's the case, that he's kind of painting that reality with the actions that he's taking here."
Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report, including updates on the still-growing humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, the still-worsening, deadly wildfires in Northern California, and more...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)