Fox News anchors allowed Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, to misrepresent aspects of President Donald Trump’s impact on health care following a federal appeals court hearing on the Affordable Care Act.
On July 9, a panel of federal appeals court judges heard arguments on the individual mandate, a central provision of the Affordable Care Act, and signaled that it could rule the mandate unconstitutional. The next day, Fox News’ America’s Newsroom brought on Azar to discuss the case, who insisted that the ACA “drove people out of the individual insurance market,” but Trump “stabilized the market,” “brought premiums down,” and is “committed to protecting people with preexisting conditions.”
In reality, the ACA increased individual markets “substantially” in 2015, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which noted that “enrollment in the individual market remained relatively unchanged in 2016 (at 17.0 million) then declined by 12% to 15.2 million in 2017” and “enrollment has continued to fall” in 2018.
The Trump administration has repeatedly attempted to sabotage markets to undermine the ACA. And insisting Trump “brought premiums down” is also misleading -- “in some areas, premiums are going down for a variety of reasons. But in most areas, premiums are also going to be higher than they might otherwise have been,” explained VeryWellHealth.com. Trump’s insistence that he wants to protect preexisting conditions also contradicts other actions his administration has taken, such as the Justice Department’s argument in court that the law should be completely scrapped, which would eliminate its protections for pre-existing conditions. Trump has stated that he does not plan to offer a replacement to the law until after the 2020 election.
From the July 10 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:
BILL HEMMER: But knowing the way that the law has been adjusted, I think that’s a fair word, over the past couple of years, is Obamacare -- is the ACA the same thing that it was when it was passed?
ALEX AZAR (HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY): Oh, it still doesn’t work for people. Obamacare doubled premiums and reduced access to health insurance for people, and it drove people out of the individual insurance market. It betrayed basically every single promise that was made to the American people. Heck, the very people who sponsored the legislation are now admitting it’s a failure, saying we need a complete government takeover of health care through “Medicare for All.” So what has President Trump done? We’ve stabilized the market, we brought premiums down, we’ve gotten more options and choice for people. But it is still too expensive for people who don't get subsidized by the federal government. And that's why President Trump is committed to protecting people with preexisting conditions but replacing Obamacare at the right time with a program that will actually deliver for those people in the individual insurance market.