President Trump has again taken steps to divide, rather than unite, the country. This time, with the stroke of his pen, Trump essentially divided young and healthy Americans from older and less healthy ones.
An executive order signed by Trump on Thursday authorizes changes to Affordable Care Act regulations that are designed to create less expensive, less comprehensive health insurance plans. Health care experts predict that changing the ACA formula in that way drives younger people — who are typically healthier — to the cheaper products. That raises costs for those left behind in the ACA pool, making collapse probable, if not inevitable. Of course, collapse of the ACA is exactly what Trump wants. It fits the one clear goal of his administration: to obliterate progressive policies linked to his predecessor, from civil rights to immigration, from environmental laws to health care.
Trump already cut funding for advertising to promote the ACA’s next open enrollment period and rolled back the ACA mandate that requires employers to cover birth control. Describing Thursday’s ACA-neutering directive, Trump said, “This is going to be something that millions and millions of people will be signing up for and they’re going to be very happy. This will be great health care.” At this point, there’s nothing to suggest Trump has any idea what it takes to deliver great health care for people who don’t have gold-plated bathroom fixtures, or that he cares to learn. From the national anthem to national health law, his mission is pure disruption. But health care is complex, so disrupting the ACA will take time. According to The New York Times, actual change to the health insurance market can’t happen until several federal agencies rewrite their regulations.
Trump took this action to undermine the ACA after the Republican-controlled Congress failed to do what should be done — come up with a bipartisan plan to make needed fixes. So Republicans in Congress own this shameful outcome as much as Trump.
And with Trump in the White House, the shame never stops. On Thursday, the president also hinted via tweet that there are limits to the help Puerto Rico has been receiving from the federal government after two hurricanes hit the island. It’s another example of his mean-spirited willingness to divide the country rather unite it, no matter how great the need or hardship.
This president gleefully divides Americans by age, race, religion, gender, wealth, and, now, health. On the rare occasion he seeks to unite, it’s an attempt to rally the country against the media. Indeed, that seems his go-to strategy when he wants to create a distraction while gutting programs that will in fact serve ordinary Americans. That appeared to be his aim when he threatened to challenge NBC’s license, after the network reported that he wanted to increase the country’s nuclear arsenal. “Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that license must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!” he tweeted. If his mission sounds familiar, it should. It’s “almost exactly what Richard Nixon appeared to be attempting in the 1970s,” recalled The Washington Post. Practically speaking, however, challenging a license is difficult; they are granted to individual local stations, not to networks.
Trump’s sinister attacks on the media should be condemned. But he can do more harm to the ACA than he can to NBC. It’s the media’s job to let Americans know just how much they have to lose from this president’s sad commitment to division.