U.S. bishop concerned about impact of Trump’s health care order on poor

| October 16, 2017 | 5 Comments

President Donald Trump looks at Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., at the White House Oct. 12 after signing an executive order that loosens certain regulations in the Affordable Care Act to allow small businesses, trade groups, unions and self-employed individuals to join together and form associations to cheaper bare-bones health insurance plans. CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters

A part of President Donald Trump’s Oct. 13 executive order on health care that would end subsidies to health insurance companies aimed at helping individuals with low to modest incomes is of “grave concern,” a U.S. bishop said.

“The Affordable Care Act is by no means perfect,” said Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, but he warned that attempts to improve it “must not use people’s health care as leverage or as a bargaining chip.”

“To do so would be to strike at the heart of human dignity and the fundamental right to health care. The poor and vulnerable will bear the brunt of such an approach,” he said in an Oct. 14 statement.

Bishop Dewane, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said the USCCB “will closely monitor the implementation and impacts of this executive order by the relevant administrative agencies.”

He said flexible options for people to obtain health coverage are important strategies but he also cautioned that “great care must be taken to avoid risk of additional harm to those who now receive health care coverage through exchanges formed under the Affordable Care Act.”

He also noted that the order “ignores many more significant problems in the nation’s health care system,” stressing that Congress must still act on comprehensive reform that would provide a framework for health care as well as solutions for conscience, immigrant access, market stability and underlying affordability problems which he said continue to be unaddressed.

Trump has said the lower health insurance premiums will allow more consumers to buy health insurance through association health plans across state lines. His order also plans to lift limits on short-term health care plans and directs agencies to write new rules.

Some experts are saying Trump’s order could destabilize the Affordable Care Act markets as cheaper but less effective plans drive people away. Health insurance companies have said that without the payment subsidies, they will either have to increase premiums or get out of the individual markets.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has estimated that the health care order would cause a 12 to 15 percent increase in premium costs and the Congressional Budget Office has put that figure at 20 percent.

Democrat leaders strongly criticized the order, particularly for its plan to end subsidies. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-New York, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said in a joint statement that the order was a “spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage.”

The federal government pays out subsidies monthly and this year that will amount to $7 billion. A federal judge has already ruled the subsidy payments are illegal without further congressional action.

Nineteen states, and the District of Columbia, have filed a lawsuit against the president for the decision to end the subsidies.

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  • Charles C.

    Buried at the very end of the article:

    “The federal government pays out subsidies monthly and this year that will amount to $7 billion. A federal judge has already ruled the subsidy payments are illegal without further congressional action.

    “Nineteen states, and the District of Columbia, have filed a lawsuit against the president for the decision to end the subsidies.”

    Not only did the judge declare them illegal, they were declared unconstitutional. Now 19 states (and the bishops?) want Trump to continue making unconstitutional subsidy payments?

    If their position is that the Constitution cannot stop any payment that benefits people, no matter where the money comes from or what it is spent on, then there is no reason to listen to them any longer. They have exposed themselves as lawless and irrational.

    • I think the liberals do not know that the money the government pays out comes out of somebody else’s wallet or bank account. Making people dependent on the government, as if on a narcotic, is not charitable and it is certainly bad economic and public policy.

      • ben king

        Right Paul. Jesus and Moses and the Father himself would never claim that theft is justified because it goes to supposedly good uses. Health care starts with yourself and too many poor people go to the hospital every week, I think it is to feel the love that they do not get, because they do not go to Catholic Church.
        Medical costs are now too ridiculous to be believed, and the govt is the ONLY reason the costs go up. If we had no govt, the costs would be so low, nobody would believe it. Doctors are being abused, patients are getting horrible care, hospital deaths are probably the biggest killer, and the costs keep skyrocketing. Something is amiss and these liberal bishops and pope need to go. Jesus was not a liberal in any way, and they are trying to convert him into one. This is sick

  • Dominic Deus

    Charles, Paul and Ben,

    Thank you for your posts.

    Healthcare policy sucks and costs are intolerable–i totally agree. I also feel an obligation to do what I can to insure no one suffers for lack of health care and I am willing to pay more in taxes to do that–but I do want cost containment; no excuses.

    The illness and suffering of others cannot be ignored by Catholics. It is absolutely not the lesson the New Testament. Again and again, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and caring for the sick are praised as virtue. I spend most of my time explains where I think the Church has gone wrong but social justice teaching and practice are not those areas.

    • Charles C.

      Dear Dominic,

      If you are willing to pay more in taxes, that is very commendable. You may send your check for whatever amount you care to, to Health and Human Services in Washington.

      But I am not.

      What justification will suffice to force people to pay into a program (Insurance company subsidies) which has already been ruled unconstitutional? And when another judge was presented with a law suit by eighteen states (including Minnesota) and D.C. seeking to force trump to continue making the payments, the judge basically laughed at them.

      Among other findings, the judge noted that the states had already put programs in place that insured that people would not be hurt, and in some cases benefited, when the subsidies were ended.

      So don’t worry, people won’t be hurt and you don’t have to advocate forcing people to get involved in an unconstitutional program. Win-Win.