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Promises kept? On health care, Trump's claims of 'monumental steps' don't add up

By Julie Rovner and Phil Galewitz, Kaiser Health News on

Published in News & Features

Now, weeks before the election, federal officials are taking credit for premiums coming down, slightly, on ACA plans. "Premiums have gone down across all of our programs, including in healthcare.gov, which had been previously seeing double-digit rate increases," Seema Verma, who runs Medicare, Medicaid and the ACA exchanges, told reporters in a Sept. 24 conference call.

Premiums have come down this past year, confirmed Sabrina Corlette, who tracks the ACA as co-director of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University, but only after many of the Trump administration's changes had driven them even higher. Insurers were spooked by the uncertainty - particularly in 2017, about whether the law would be repealed - and Trump's cutoff of federal funding for subsidies.

"The bottom line is, rates have gone up under Trump," Corlette said.

WOMEN'S REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

Before he was elected, Trump pledged his allegiance to anti-abortion activists, who in turn urged their supporters to vote for him. But unlike many previous GOP presidents who called themselves "pro-life" but pushed the issue to the back burner, Trump has delivered on many of his promises to abortion foes.

Foremost, Trump has nominated two justices to the Supreme Court who were supported by anti-abortion advocates. With the help of the GOP Senate, Trump has also placed 200 conservative judges on federal district and appeals courts.

 

While many of the policy proposals advanced by the Trump administration are tied up in court, the sheer volume of activity has been notable, outstripping in less than four years efforts by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush over each of their two-term presidencies.

Among those actions is a re-implementation and broadening of the "Mexico City Policy" that restricts foreign aid funding to organizations that "perform or promote" abortion. The administration has also moved to push Planned Parenthood out of the federal family planning program and Medicaid program. In addition, it has moved to make private insurance that covers abortion harder to purchase under the Affordable Care Act.

Trump's efforts on women's reproductive health reach beyond abortion to birth control. New rules would make it easier for employers with a "moral or religious objection" to decline to offer birth control as a health insurance benefit. Other rules would make it easier for health workers to decline to participate in any procedure to which they personally object.

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