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October 04, 2017

On Senate Floor, King Discusses “Sabotage” of the Affordable Care Act

“Why does anyone want to have fewer people with insurance?”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate to address threats to the Affordable Care Act’s healthcare marketplace.

“I’m rising today in sadness, but also in some anger because there’s a lot of talk about the Affordable Care Act collapsing,” said Senator King in his speech. “Mr. President, it is not collapsing – it’s being mugged. It’s being stabbed in the back. It’s being sabotaged, deliberately and consciously by the actions of the Administration. And I want to emphasize – this isn’t about ideology, it’s not about politics… this is about people.

“It’s about people in Maine. It’s about people, many of whom got care for the first time under the Affordable Care Act. Lobstermen, small farmers, small business people, individuals, finally had a shot at reasonably healthcare. It’s not perfect by any means – in fact, I’ve been working on proposals since the day I got here on how to improve it…but it is the law of the land, and the impacts on what we do here or don’t do here fall on real people.

“This isn’t about ideology, this is about seeing that the laws are faithfully executed. That’s why they call it the Administration – the Administration is supposed to administer the laws, not un-administer them. And we’re talking about people – why does anyone want to have fewer people with insurance? I’m just at a loss to understand the motivation… if you don’t like the ACA, let’s work together to find ways to improve it, change it – but figure out how to keep people with health insurance. The uninsured rate has fallen 50% since the Affordable Care Act. That’s an enormous achievement. It’s one that should be celebrated, not sabotaged.”

During his speech, Senator King listed several examples of ongoing efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act. These examples include:

  • In January, the administration cut previously planned advertising related to the final week of open enrollment. This played a role in the decrease in ACA enrollments in 2017 compared to the previous year.
  • In February, the IRS announced a decrease in enforcement for the ACA’s individual mandate. With less enforcement, there is less incentive for individuals to participate in the market, in turn making the entire insurance market less viable.
  • In April, the Trump administration issued the first of seven threats to withhold or reduce the legally required Cost Sharing Reduction payments. These continued threats created a marketplace uncertainty, which is currently being felt in Maine. Just last week, Anthem announced they would not participate in the state’s marketplace for 2018, citing this uncertainty as a factor in the decision.
  • In May, the Administration’s budget included drastic decreases for the marketplace’s call center, in-person assistance and marketing. Additionally, the budget reduces the open enrollment period by 50%, changing the period from 12 weeks to 6 weeks, making it more difficult for the American people to sign up for coverage.
  • In August, the Administration announced that marketplace outreach will be reduced by 90%, and navigator assistance programs to help individuals make their healthcare decisions will be reduced by 40%. Again, these cuts increase the level of difficulty to enroll in coverage through the ACA.
  • In September, the Department of Health and Human Services disclosed that they would be shutting down the open enrollment system for 12 hours per weekend, from midnight until noon on Sundays. This reduces available weekend hours for enrollment by 25%, adding an additional obstacle to working people who rely on days off to attend to personal matters like securing healthcare.

Senator King has been a strong advocate for bipartisan solutions to stabilize the healthcare market in order to protect those who receive coverage under the Affordable Care Act. 

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