President Trump directed administration officials to turn down a request to help Iowans maintain health care coverage and premium costs in what critics say is an attempt to sabotage Obamacare.
Trump reportedly read about Iowa’s request for a Section 1332 waiver in the Wall Street Journal in late August, according to a source who spoke to the Washington Post.
The waiver is a provision that allows states to adjust how they implement the Affordable Care Act as long as a comparable number of people are still covered with a plan that is similarly comprehensive and affordable without increasing the federal budget deficit.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was traveling in Asia at the time, so Trump directed Seema Varma, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, to deny the request, a source told the Post.
In an Aug. 21 letter addressed to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Price, Gov. Kim Reynolds wrote that Iowans “face an immediate collapsing market that could leave thousands without health insurance and the rest with 56% or higher premium rate increases….”
The waiver, along with the proposed Stopgap Measure, offered a short term solution that would help keep 18,000 to 22,000 Iowans insured, while keeping premium costs down, according to Reynold’s letter.
Some Republicans say officials are still pushing for the waiver to be granted, while a spokesman for the HHS told the Post Iowa’s application “has been deemed complete and is currently under review.”
Trump’s intervention is seen as part of a wider plan to undermine the Affordable Care Act, which the GOP has failed to repeal and replace after a seven-year campaign.
Sen. Margaret Hassan (D-N.H), called for the Trump administration to halt its “attempts to sabotage health care markets and raise health care costs for millions”.
Critics say the Health and Human Services Department is also trying to deter people from signing up for the ACA by cutting the enrollment period and significantly reducing the advertising budget.
It was also announced that the Healthcare.gov website would be down for maintenance for 12-hour periods during the enrollment period.
After the GOP’s attempt to pass the “skinny repeal” failed in July, Trump tweeted, “3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!”
Trump directed HHS to deny Iowa’s proposal to fix health care