The Trump administration has taken major steps this week to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA). President Donald Trump says these moves will force Congress to act. Critics say they will leave many Americans without health insurance. This week we asked the panel:
Do you approve of Trump’s actions on health care?
The panel had mixed reactions to the president’s actions. Some believe that the ACA needs to be dismantled and replaced with something more efficient. Others expressed that the ACA was not affordable and forced them to cancel their health insurance. But for other members of our panel, the ACA has been a lifeline and without it medical costs would have overwhelmed their households.
Here is what the rest of the panel said:
President Trump's intentional sabotage of the ACA is abominable. His refusal to pay the subsidies that cover part of the cost of co-payments and deductibles for the poorest among us will have repercussions for all of us. The co-payment and deductible discounts will still be required by law. However. In order to recoup the losses, the insurance companies will raise premiums significantly. The president claims that by dismantling the ACA Congress will have to act to provide relief for Americans struggling to pay the rising premiums. However, Congress has been unable to produce any meaningful legislation to replace the ACA, and I wouldn't expect them to come up with a fix this time either. Intentionally sabotaging the ACA is morally wrong and, in the end, will hurt the people that need insurance the most.
• Candice Crigler, a student studying global affairs who lives in Dunwoody
I do not approve of the destruction of the ACA. This administration clearly has no concern about people not being able to afford medical care, and that is very troubling. As a person who did not have insurance from high school through my mid-thirties I can attest to how scary it is to have to worry about getting sick or injured and knowing that you don't have the resources to pay for a serious ailment. The path that this administration is on will ensure that hospital ERs will, again, be overrun with people who do not have insurance. It will likely bankrupt small and rural hospitals that cannot afford to provide indigent care.
• Michelle Zupan, works for a non-profit and lives in Augusta
Obamacare is a total mess and President Trump's Executive Order is a move in the right direction. Trump's E.O. increases options by allowing consumers to pick and choose the coverage they want and increases competition by opening markets across state lines. It helps small businesses to band together to buy health insurance and gives them the same advantages as big business. It also ends the illegal Cost-Reduction Subsidies (CSRs), and helps to restore the rule of law.This action removes expensive mandates and allows consumers to pick and choose the coverage they want. Buying only the insurance products you want will significantly lower costs. Allowing competition across states lines will break up government-created health insurance monopolies and lower prices by opening markets and forcing them to compete. This will also give buyers more options, as many states now only have a single health insurance provider.This order creates Association Health Plans (AHPs), which will allow small businesses in the same line of work to band together to buy health insurance and gives them the same advantages as big business. It also establishes Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRA's), which allow employers to provide workers with tax-free funds to pay for health care costs, such as deductibles and co-pays.Finally, Trump is ending illegal back-door subsidies to crony corporations by stopping the Cost-Reduction Subsidies (CRSs), that Obama was making without congressional authorization. This was ruled unconstitutional by a federal district court yet was continued. This is an important step is restoring the rule of law in our nation.Congress needs to act to repeal the disastrous (Affordable Care Act), but in the meantime, President Trump has taken some positive actions that will lower costs for consumers, protect taxpayers, and help small businesses. He is also draining the swamp by complying with the law and ending corporate cronyism.Good job, Mr. President!
• Lou Davis, works in international business and is a part-time instructor at Lanier Technical College, teaching GED to inmates at both the Dawson and Lumpkin county jails
Hell no, I do not approve of Trump's actions on health care. His actions come entirely from spite toward President Obama. He is swinging a sledgehammer at anything related to the Affordable Care Act, with little to no understanding of how his actions will impact the actual health care received by the American people. This is a man with no comprehension of how health care policy works and no care about any person other than himself. He just knows that Obamacare has the word "Obama" in it, and that's the part he hates.
• James Radford, civil rights lawyer who lives in Decatur
Trump did three things last week in his effort to replace the disastrous Obamacare. One action was necessary, and the other two may help fine-tune the health care act. The first action ended the illegal cost-sharing reduction payments being made to health insurers. This was an annual payment that was to make up for the losses incurred by the health care providers when they were required to reduce deductibles, co-payments and other similar payments for lower income consumers. Funding for this payment was not legislated by Congress and payments were never apportioned. They were paid by Executive Order. Stopping this payment will cause individual premiums to increase, but the impact will be little to none due to the increase in Obamacare subsidies paid for by the taxpayers (you’ll soon find out).The next action relaxed the restrictions on “association health plans” and should allow smaller employers to band together and offer the same kind of plans offered by large employers. This should increase coverage.The third action should allow the short-term health insurance to be renewable. How this will “shake out” is yet to be seen.These actions only point out the complete failure of Obamacare.
• Richard Kraft, retired from the real estate industry and lives in Peachtree Corners
Trump's actions taken on the ACA are entirely shortsighted and foolish. I can understand that many Americans do not support the ACA, but defunding our entire health care system could destabilize lifesaving organizations that all Americans rely on. I am yet again disappointed by our president's terrible decision making and his lack of concern for those who rely upon institutional health care mechanisms to literally stay alive.
• Greg Bieger, works in the tech industry and lives in Marietta
I simply cannot manage to keep up with what is actually happening with the ACA and its demise/repeal/replacement. Since the day this question has been posed to this group, the headlines have changed and, apparently, a bipartisan solution may be at hand. Tomorrow, who knows…? If Trump’s true motive in EO-ing the ACA to death was to force Congress to act in some way to reconstruct or stabilize the ACA, I suppose his goal was met. Health care and coverage is no trifling matter for our citizens, but the saga continues. (For the record, no, I don’t approve of Trump trying to pull the rug out from under sick Americans.)
• Karen Lupton, works at A.G. Rhodes Health & Rehab and lives in Chamblee
I prepare income taxes each year from the middle of January through the middle of October and have seen the devastating effects of Obamacare. I am in full support of President Trump’s actions. Obamacare has caused financial hardships to small businesses and everyday people by demanding that everyone be covered by not only health insurance, but insurance that is not needed — such as pregnancy coverage for men. The premiums have gotten higher every year so that the government subsidies can be funneled to the insurance companies. President Trump’s action(s) will at least allow people to shop for insurance across state lines and thereby break the monopoly some companies have. There are other problems with Obamacare that I have witnessed firsthand.If a family is covered under the marketplace (another name for Obamacare), they must estimate their income a year in advance and determine how many people will be covered. These figures determine how much their premium should be and how much will be subsidized by the government. When filing their taxes, if their income is different from what they estimated, they will pay a penalty — up to the amount of their subsidy. For example, one of my clients’ sons graduated from high school and went to work. Even though the parents can cover him until he is 26 years old (an Obamacare rule), they did not claim him as a dependent. They had to pay back over $7,500 in premium subsidies after paying high premiums all year long.People did not die in droves before Obamacare, and despite the scare tactics being used, I feel confident they will not die in droves after Obamacare. What I am expecting is a decrease in premiums and the ability of employers to hire full-time workers again.
• Mary Patrick, a certified public accountant who lives in Jasper County
President Trump's actions this week on Obamacare are not only correct, but past due. With family in the medical administration and billing sectors, I hear continually how ACA hurts access to quality health care across the board and severely limits health insurance choices for consumers. Skyrocketing premiums, enormous deductibles, and refusal by many hospitals and clinics to accept unworkable Obamacare plans are only the most obvious problems resulting from this bad law. However, the president cannot unilaterally dismantle it. By executive order, he rolled back short-term insurance plan rules to their status fifteen months back under Obama's administration, broadened the ability of small businesses to band together and provide more affordable insurance for their employees, and encouraged tax-advantaged plans which employers can offer to help employees with out-of-pocket medical costs. Each of these items increases medical coverage options for Americans, which is good. Additionally, President Trump is stopping insurance company subsidies that have not been funded by Congress. These welfare checks are currently paid unlawfully, and putting their future in Congress’ hands is constitutionally the right thing for the president to do. He must do his job, and Congress must do theirs.
• Joshua Morris, HVAC/plumbing design engineer for a small firm in Gwinnett who lives in Gainesville
Mr. Trump insists that he must keep the “promise” he made to the American people. That sounds as if all Americans were dissatisfied with the Affordable Care Act from its adoption and demanded its repeal and replacement. The name, “Obamacare,” and relentless disparagement of its provisions, are directly traceable to one party’s public vow to obstruct President Obama on every issue, as well as Mr Trump’s well-known personal antipathy for the president. President Obama was first to state the need for continuous improvement of the ACA, and his opponents had eight years to propose improvements. They could not.Now, against the dismal backdrop of two justifiable failures to pass bills featuring grossly inadequate coverage at discriminatory rates, callously excluding vast swaths of Americans, a chillingly sanguine White House suddenly cut off subsidies enabling the less fortunate to insure themselves and their children.“Repeal & Replace” was no more -- and no less -- than a promise of revenge, borne out most recently in an act of sabotage affecting innocent Americans.
• Maureen Allen, freelance copy writer who lives in Blairsville
The Affordable Care Act has been justifiably criticized for shortcomings. However, it has increased accessibility to health care for millions of people who were formerly left out. High premiums in the marketplace are a huge sticking point for many and would impact my family severely. At this point with the ways things are going for Congress, the best solution is two solutions: a short-term fix for the cost of premiums in order to keep health care available, and a long-term, bipartisan design which would improve cost and access. Although I am an advocate for single-payer since the increase in tax would be much smaller than any premiums currently available, I realize the country is not yet ready for that.
• Micki Gonzalez, a musician who lives in Tucker
Rand Paul had a great take on this and he is no pushover on anything Trump has wanted to do. "Many of the 28 million people left behind by Obamacare who still don’t have insurance work low-wage jobs in our fast food restaurants,” wrote Paul in an op-ed at Breitbart on Thursday. “The President’s decision today will allow workers from 2 million restaurants to come together to form a buying group and through sheer size get cheaper and better insurance.” This also will affect all workers in other industries so that office workers, electricians, etc. can form groups to buy in large quantities and over state lines. There is economy in size and it should work well.
• Roberta Cromlish, a retired nurse who lives in Stone Mountain
I dislike executive orders, and Trump has signed far too many. It is past time for Congress to start working together to create bipartisan legislation which addresses the issues facing Americans.
• Laura Register, works for the Ga Campaign for Adolescent Power and Potential and lives in Cairo
Most Americans will tell you that their health is the most valuable item they possess. However, our politicians have reduced the discussion of how to maintain this asset to a purely political discussion. Regardless of their words, President Trump as well as the Republicans in Congress want to repeal "Obamacare" simply because it is the cornerstone of a president they despise. The Democrats want to hold on to it because it is the most prominent win they have in the last 8 years. They all are indebted to the various medical and insurance industry lobbyists more than they are to their constituents. The cost of drugs, hospital stays, doctor visits, and insurance premiums all continue to soar while the access to care for poor people and in rural areas becomes more difficult to obtain. We need our leaders to focus on putting a plan together that will allow all of us, regardless of age, economic or work status, location, or health, to have a future where our quality of health care is independent of all those factors. We need our current system to not just be dismantled but to be rebuilt with the total focus being on improving the health and long-term well-being of the citizenry, not making political statements or supporting political donors. I can't say I see the current plan accomplishing that.
• Randy Sanford, retired from the carpet industry and lives in Dalton
As of January 2017, I canceled my health insurance. Rapidly increasing monthly premiums to the increased deductibles/out-of-pocket expenses -- we couldn’t handle it anymore. We would not have seen a dime of benefits until we have paid more than $33,000 for the year. That did not make sense to us, and so we are gambling that I would not face a serious medical issue as a 60-year-old man. We can say without exaggeration that due to ACA, I’m without health insurance.I applaud the president’s efforts to fulfill the promise to provide something better in health care. The creation of small-group purchasing power as well as the opportunity to cross state lines is a very good step in the right direction in helping all working people. Hope he and the Congress will do more, like expanding HSAs, medical malpractice reform and eliminating ALL federal mandates as to what insurers must provide.Since this year, I have noticed a growing number of medical providers offering memberships which give discounts for care to their members. Great idea! Hope to see this expand.
• Mike Steele, a farmer from Chattanooga
I strongly disagree with Trump's agenda to destroy/replace ACA/Obamacare, I realize that ACA/Obamacare is not perfect, and that many people do not even understand what it provides, but it is an excellent start to provide access to health care for every American. I am very disappointed that Trump's agenda is not to provide great, affordable health care to every American by improving ACA/Obamacare, or supporting my favorite, Bernie Sanders' Medicare for ALL.
• Randy Todd, a retiree who lives in Newnan
At this point, it should be quite clear to all of us that Mr. Trump has little idea of how to translate politics into policy. Whipping up a crowd with divisive rhetoric is much easier than delivering substantive legal changes to a health care system that needs quite a few tweaks. It seems that he is intent on destroying the legacy of the ACA regardless of what that means for citizens that have benefited under the law. While the rise in prices of medical insurance and care are concerning factors, I do not believe that reducing benefits (maternity, mental health, and addiction) or government subsidies from health care exchanges will result in a better health care system. Along with his efforts to eliminate requirements that plans cover birth control, all of Trump’s actions are targeted at groups that failed to support his campaign; allowing him to use elected office as a tool of retribution.
• Ted Ward, works as a education coordinator and lives in Decatur
I do not agree with President Trump’s actions against the ACA. This will put a much greater hardship on lower income people, for what? To prove a point? The ACA is based on Mitt Romney’s plan. If the GOP did not like a plan developed by one of their own, they had every opportunity to work with Democrats to compromise while, hopefully, putting Americans citizens first. This did not happen. Instead they voted over 70 times to repeal. That is not statesmanship; that is shallow showmanship. Party over country. Health care insurance is very personal to me. Both of my children have pre-existing conditions. Many Republicans want a return to some mystical “good old days” before the ACA. When corporations were in charge of our health care? When the emphasis was on their profits? When women could be charged more than men, sick people could be arbitrarily dropped or have a spending cap on their costs? When insurance company death panel doctors decided who would get what treatment? The ACA fixed all of that and made improvements. We are the only First World country that does not have some type of universal coverage. If our current representatives cannot fix this, we need new representatives.
• Luanne West, a retired special education teacher who lives in Canton
I condemn these actions in the strongest of terms. A huge portion of the people close to me are going to be affected by this in very serious ways. Once again, Donald Trump is creating a crisis for absolutely no good reason and in defiance of any semblance of morality. There is only one remotely positive aspect to this, and it is a bitter and cynical point I do not like to make: This will actually hurt Trump supporters just as much as it hurts everyone else. That's an important point to make because that's a key difference between this and all the various other horrible actions Trump has taken. Trump supporters aren't directly affected negatively when Trump threatens to take away FEMA support from Puerto Rico after promising that it would always be there for Texas, or refuses to implement the sanctions against Russia that Congress passed earlier this year, or when he threatens to toss the First Amendment aside to punish news companies he calls "fake" after years of libeling Obama got him where he is now. But they absolutely will be affected negatively by this. And maybe that will make them start to face the consequences of their choice to inflict a pathetic schoolyard bully on us as president.
• James Holt, a warehouse worker who lives in Norcross
I understand the reasoning behind President Trump's actions: He's between a rock (promising to repeal and replace) and a hard place (Congress' inability to deliver in his first year). He has to take action on the health insurance issue specifically because it was the cornerstone of his campaign. Due to gridlock in Congress, the only way he can prompt any action is by executive order.The current (Obamacare) system redefined health INSURANCE by blurring the difference between INSURANCE and CARE. It was designed to 1) cover all eligible, forcing horrid price hikes, 2) become unsustainable over time, leading to insurers' inability to manage care and prices, market instability, individual market failure, then finally implode, with no option but to rely on governmental bailouts, prompting a government-run health insurance -- then delivery -- system.All President Trump's orders are doing is reintroducing legal options for affordable INSURANCE available to those who are healthy risk-takers. It will likely drag out the inevitable fall of the health insurance market until we succumb to a government-run, socialized, or Medicare-for-all system.
• Tracy Conlon, works in the health insurance industry and lives in Augusta
Yes, I do approve of his actions. Obamacare is a disaster. As someone who uses it I can attest to that. Congress needs to get off its ass and fix it. They should have read it before passing it.
• LouAnna Lear, a mother of 3 and a nanny who lives in Roswell
No, I do not agree with Trump's health care "repeal." I agree that every single insurance policy sold in the U.S. should offer the same core standards of coverage -- mental illness, habilitative services, birth control, maternity coverage, pre-existing conditions covered, adult children on parents policies. Pulling the subsidies that made it possible for carriers to offer insurance in "bad markets" is a disaster and I hope he actually succeeds; then his core base will understand finally the true skills of a carnival barker as they will no longer even have a market from which to buy a policy. The inclusion of "religious protections" merely provides a back door to legal discrimination. As a nonbeliever, I would be offended if someone negotiating policies on my behalf would elect to impose his/her personal beliefs on others. I don't stand up and demand everyone stop saying "under god" or that it be removed from currency; I expect the same respect afforded to me. That's what these changes to existing law reflect: a lily-paternal government deciding "what's best" for it's citizens. I don't elect a moral leader (and you don't vote for pope); I expect a sane set of laws that govern everyone and not focus on a dwindling minority.
• Jennifer Arthur, is a bank employee who lives in Roswell
I absolutely do not approve of President Trump's action re health care. His recent action will leave scores of Americans without coverage and plunge us deeper into an already catastrophic health disaster. The president's total and blatant disregard for anyone who does not cater to him or condone his extravagant lifestyle is beyond immoral. Our Georgia Republican D.C. representatives and senators are either clueless or ignorant by choice of what we really need. They all need to be defeated and replaced with people who at least sympathize with their constituents. They need to do more than just say they pray for us. They need to serve us and do their jobs for the folks who "brought them to the dance."
• Kenneth Russell, a retired secondary education social studies teacher who lives in Calhoun
I certainly don’t approve of the president's handling of health care policies or initiatives. How can penalizing the people who need assistance the most force Congress' hand? They will still have insurance and access to health care! But what about the folks in the margins? What about the chronically ill who couldn't obtain coverage prior to the ACA? Or the people who work for small companies that through some loophole or another aren't required to offer health care coverage? Unless you're a one percenter or big business, you are a nonfactor for this administration. Forget "we the people." It's more like me, my and mine. How can we trust that this order will improve health care options? Because he said so? Because the other half-truths and "fake news" coming from this administration have established a bond of trust?As a person who saw their insurance premiums increase after the passing of the ACA, I still do not think the act should be dismantled. Fix the flaws -- if you can -- but don't strip it away without having a sound replacement already on the books. There are people who will literally live or die based on the existence or removal of the ACA.
• Brandee Thomas, works for a non-profit and lives in Lawrenceville
In the dead of night, President Trump took steps to sabotage health care for millions of Americans. In a matter of days, he has made birth control more difficult to access, put maternity care in danger, and is now making health care more expensive and difficult to get. According to an estimate from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Trump's latest move to eliminate funding for cost-sharing reductions will raise premiums at least 20 percent. This move will not only result in higher rates of uninsured, but also destabilize the entire health insurance market. This announcement was made just hours after President Trump signed an executive order that will result in lower quality health care plans and higher costs for countless Americans, particularly those who have pre-existing conditions. This action is clearly designed to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and to bait young people into buying health plans that likely won’t cover basic health care services, such as maternity care and preventive care like birth control -- all of which disproportionately impacts young women.But this move is nothing new. Trump has taken every opportunity to attack basic health care, and the American people continue to pay the price.
• Staci Fox, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast and lives in Atlanta
I fundamentally disagree with Trump’s actions on health care, as I believe that health care is not a privilege but a human right. It is embarrassing that the United States is one of the wealthiest nations on earth, yet we are behind many other developed countries when it comes to providing decent and affordable health care to keep our citizens well. It would behoove Donald Trump, who claims to be a Christian, as well as the 91% of our members of Congress who say they’re Christian, to look to Scripture. The Bible clearly demands that we care for the most vulnerable among us, and that includes healing the sick. So much so that in the Gospels we are told that we will be judged in the end on whether or not we cared for the sick and needy. Furthermore, for many, the lack of access to health care can be a matter of life and death. A study from Harvard University in 2009 concluded that “lack of health insurance is associated with as many as 44,789 deaths per year.” Getting sick simply should not be a death sentence for the poor.
• Bernadette Naro, a campus minister at Marist School and lives in Grant Park
The president's order to end the insurance subsidy payments was just the latest of his attempts to destabilize the insurance markets and fulfill his prophecy that the Affordable Care Act is "imploding". In fact Obamacare is actually doing just fine with insurance now available in every county in the country and most insurers had already raised their rates for the current enrollment period in anticipation of this move. In the private sector, if one company tried to sabotage another in this fashion the words "collusion," "extortion" or "defamation" might apply, but this is just dirty politics. The irony of the matter is that despite the president's and Republicans' stubborn insistence that the ACA be replaced, nearly all polling suggests Americans just want it to be improved. The Republicans are like the dog chasing the car. Now that he's finally caught it he doesn't have a clue what to do with it. They booed, hissed, hollered and obstructed every Democratic effort to improve the ACA for seven years and were so focused on seeing it fail that they are now woefully unprepared for its success and don't seem to have a clue how to make it better.
• Gary Corn, a general contractor who lives in Jasper