Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy and guest Avik Roy repeated several debunked myths about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and about President Donald Trump’s decision to stop funding cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, a crucial subsidy under the ACA.
Roy, the president of a conservative think tank, claimed that Trump is not sabotaging Obamacare, arguing that, “in fact, what the president did was actually very modest, very incremental, and very positive for the insurance markets.” In fact, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has tracked the many steps Trump has taken to sabotage the ACA. Some insurers who have had to raise rates on customers have explicitly blamed Trump for their decision to do so. And Trump himself pledged to “Let Obamacare implode” after Congress failed to pass a plan to repeal the law. In an October 14 speech, former White House chief strategist and Trump campaign chairman Steve Bannon told an audience the president’s move to end CSRs was “gonna blow those exchanges up.”
Roy’s claim that ending CSRs is “very positive for the insurance markets” is also false. Timothy Jost, an expert in health law and a consumer liaison representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, explained that ending these payments may cause insurers to “give up on the exchanges for 2018.” The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that ending these payments could cause some plans to to “rise by about 20 percent in 2018” compared to current projections. Additionally, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that ending CSR payments “would result in a net increase in federal costs of $2.3 billion” next year due to the higher cost of tax credits for those with higher premiums.
Roy also falsely attributed premium increases over the last four years to the ACA, but as Forbes contributor Robb Mandelbaum pointed out, “Health insurance premiums have been rising for decades, almost (though not quite) as stubbornly reliable as an eastern sunrise.” And studies have found that these premium increases would have been a lot higher without the ACA.
From the October 17 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): I'm just wondering, and you're an expert, is President Trump sabotaging Obamacare?
AVIK ROY: No. You know what's funny, Steve? There’s this kind of political dynamic where the president wants to say he’s blown up or repealed Obamacare single-handedly, which he can't do. And the Democrats want to scare people by saying, “well it's Trump's fault that the premiums are going up, not our fault.” And so, both sides have this incentive to say there’s this apocalypse going on. But, in fact, what the president did was actually very modest, very incremental, and very positive for the insurance markets.
DOOCY: OK, so we’re going to cross that off our list as not being accurate. Meanwhile, I want you to listen to a soundbite. Here is Republican U.S. Senator Susan Collins of Maine talking about the disadvantaged getting subsidies. Listen to this:
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): I'm very concerned about what the impact is going to be for people who make under 250 percent of the federal poverty level, because the funding that is available under the cost-sharing reductions is used to subsidize their out-of-pocket costs.
DOOCY: OK, so you say the Republican senator from Maine is absolutely wrong?
ROY: Yeah, it’s just she’s factually wrong. That's not how the cost-sharing subsidies work. The way it works is Obamacare requires, the law requires insurers to offer these very low deductible products to people whose incomes are near the poverty line. And then the Obama administration, through the back door, was subsidizing it illegally. So all Trump did was end those illegal subsidies. But, the fact is, there will still be financial assistance so that those individuals can afford their insurance. Their deductibles and their premiums won't change one cent. Not one cent.
DOOCY: Finally, we want you to talk about the fact that a million times we’ve heard people say premiums are going to skyrocket. What do you say to that?
ROY: Well, premiums have skyrocketed over the last four years. Since Obamacare started, premiums on average have doubled and tripled and quadrupled for many people. So, what’s going to happen this coming year? No, the financial assistance that Obamacare has will kick in to make sure that again, people who are eligible for those subsidies they won't pay a cent higher.