By Dorian Warren
On the campaign trail, Donald Trump bragged about the “art of the deal,” but frankly, all his presidency has shown is the “art of division.”
In just the first nine months of this administration, we’ve seen unprecedented levels of deception and divisiveness descend from the Oval Office. Whether he’s defending white supremacists, discriminating against our brave, transgender soldiers, or demonizing and deporting immigrants, Donald Trump has proven himself to be the “Divider in Chief.”
For all Trump’s unpredictable tweets and un-presidential antics, division and hatred are two areas where he’s been notably consistent. His latest move is a great example. Thwarted by Congress and the American people – who stood up and fought against many zombie-like repeal-and-replace bills this summer – Trump’s latest moves on health care demonstrate that he’s set on dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with or without Congressional support.
It’s critical to look beyond the president’s tweets and focus on what he does with his pen. Last week, the President signed an executive order to undermine the ACA, and, no surprise, it benefits the rich at the expense of the most vulnerable. The Trump order’s long list of damages includes gutting protections for people with pre-existing health conditions, raising health care costs for millions and sending the ACA marketplace into complete chaos – his ultimate goal all along. Then, later that same night, Trump delivered a second blow to Americans’ health care. He announced that the federal government would stop funding subsidies that help people struggling to make ends meet pay for health care. This “spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage,” as Congressional Democrats described it, would ultimately make health care more expensive (or completely unattainable) for many Americans. And that includes millions of the people who voted for the President.
Among the litany of terrible directives in this executive order is a push for federal agencies to make short-term, non-ACA compliant health plans more widely available across state lines. These non-compliant plans are often called “junk insurance,” and for good reason: unlike plans under the ACA’s rules, these plans can violate every protection in the landmark health care law, from charging people different rates for the same care to denying people coverage altogether, simply because they have a pre-existing health condition, like asthma or diabetes.
In addition, these plans do not have to abide by the ACA’s “essential benefits” – leaving millions of insured people without access to basic services like maternity care, mental health treatment, or prescription drugs – not to mention the millions who will not be able to afford coverage at all. Adding fuel to the fire, these reckless decisions will have a ripple effect on insurance markets across the country. As millions of healthy, young people flock to cheaper junk plans, the vast majority of Americans will find themselves facing higher premiums and out-of-pockets in the health care marketplace.
For nine long months, Trump has played our differences against us like a fiddle – dividing us by race, religion, immigration status, gender and now, with a tweet and a swipe of a pen, our health. This is the most brazen attempt we’ve seen yet to sabotage the ACA and jeopardize health care for millions, pitting the interests of young, healthy people against those of older people and those with pre-existing conditions.
We must not fall for this latest attempt to divide us. Just as we have come together to protest this administration’s racist immigration bans, decried the president’s implicit support of white supremacists, and remained strong in the face of his misogynist, racist and xenophobic policies, we must stand together now and fight this latest attack on our most vulnerable citizens.
Dorian Warren is president of the Center for Community Change Action.