Timothy Jost, Emeritus Professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law and one of the nation’s foremost experts on government health care policy, replies to Congressman Goodlatte’s statement of support for President Trump’s recent actions threatening health insurance coverage for millions of Americans through the Affordable Care Act.
Goodlatte’s statement: On Thursday, President Trump signed an Executive Order with the goal of maximizing competition in the health care marketplace and potentially providing Americans more affordable health insurance choices. This action directs Administration officials to take a look at the options available through the regulatory process and consider expanding access to things like Association Health Plans, which allow small employers to band together to offer affordable insurance, selling insurance across state lines, and using health reimbursement arrangements to give employees greater choice over how to finance their health care. These are reforms that I have also supported in Congress.
The facts: Association health plans in the past have defrauded small businesses and left them with millions in unpaid claims. Short term health plans offer inadequate coverage and undermine the market for major medical coverage. These are bad ideas that have already been tried and failed. Congressman Goodlatte should try to make health reform work for his constituents rather than undermining it.
Goodlatte’s statement: Additionally, last year the federal courts concluded that the Obama Administration unconstitutionally usurped congressional authority by sending federal funding to private insurance providers without the approval of Congress. Last week, President Trump announced that the federal government will not continue an appeal of this ruling. Therefore, these unauthorized payments cannot continue. This is yet another example of how President Obama’s executive overreach, which ignored the other two branches of government in a naked attempt to try and achieve his policy agenda, backfired and worsened the already imploding Obamacare system. This is exactly why the Senate needs to take action to repeal and replace Obamacare, as the House has already done with my support, and help all Americans access the affordable coverage they desire.
The facts: It is incorrect to say that “the federal courts” concluded anything. A single district court has ruled that the cost-sharing reduction payments had not been appropriated. That decision was appealed by the Obama administration. President Trump has not dismissed that appeal, and could not do so in any event because the appellate court has allowed 19 states, including Virginia, to intervene in the appeal. Given the inability of Congress to get anything done, President Obama exercised executive authority to implement the ACA. Given the continuing inability of Congress to get anything done, President Trump is now doing the same thing. He has issued more executive orders so far than any president since Roosevelt. And the House of Representatives did not repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. It merely amended parts of the statute. Congressman Goodlatte no doubt did not read the legislation.