Health and Science

President Donald Trump says 'the Democrats are destroying health care' as he blasts them for opposing Obamacare repeal law

Key Points
  • Trump spoke a day after Ohio's largest insurer, Anthem, said it would stop selling Obamacare plans there next year.
  • The president described the experiences of two people he called 'victims' of Obamacare.
  • Trump said Republican senators would press for health-care reform even in the face of staunch Democratic opposition.
McConnell: Health-care vote "close"
McConnell: Health-care vote "close"

President Donald Trump ripped Democrats for opposing Republican efforts in Congress to repeal and replace much of Obamacare, accusing the party of wrecking health care in the United States.

"The Democrats are destroying health care in this country," Trump said in Cincinnati, Ohio, a day after the state's largest Obamacare insurer said it would exit that market next year.

"We're having no help: it's only obstruction from the Democrats."

"We have no help, we will get no votes. If we gave you the greatest plan in the history of the world, we would have no Democratic vote," Trump said.

"It's all going to be Republicans or bust."

Trump's remarks came as GOP leaders in the Senate moved toward potentially introducing health-care legislation that could significantly undo a number of Obamacare provisions.

Democrats in the House voted uniformly against the GOP's health-care bill last month, which passed the House by just a single "yes" vote. All Democrats in the Senate are expected to oppose that bill or a similar one that would greatly change the nation's health-care law.

"The Republicans are working very, very hard on getting a great health-care plan," Trump said. "I can tell you the Democrats are really in our way."

The president spoke in front of the Air Force One jet after landing in Cincinnati, where he met with two people he described as "victims of the Obamacare catastrophe created by congressional Democrats."


"They've had their lives completely upended by the disaster known as Obamacare," Trump said.

"Across America, premiums are skyrocketing, insurers are fleeing, and the American people are paying much more for much worse coverage," Trump said. "The coverage is horrendous."

"Ever since the law's provisions took effect, premiums have exploded by an average of 86 percent in Ohio, and 75 percent in Kentucky," Trump said, referring to the state just next door to Cincinnati.

"Obamacare is in a death spiral, and the problems will only get worse if Congress fails to act," the president said. "Obamacare is dead. I've been saying it for a long time."

Trump mentioned Tuesday's news that big insurer Anthem would effectively exit Ohio's Obamacare market next year. Anthem had cited continued "volatility" in the individual health plan market.

Anthem to exit Ohio health-care exchange in 2018
Anthem to exit Ohio health-care exchange in 2018

One of the reasons for that volatility is the lack of guarantees from either Trump or congressional Republicans that the federal government will continue paying insurers billions of dollars in reimbursements for crucial Obamacare subsidies that reduce health costs for low-income customers.

Insurance experts project that premiums next year could be 20 percent higher or more for individual health plans because insurers cannot depend, as of now, on that money, which is known as cost-sharing reduction payments.

The people cited by Trump on Wednesday as victims of Obamacare included Rays Whalen, a woman from Dayton, Ohio.

The president said Whalen had "loved" her health plan and liked her doctor before the Affordable Care Act went into effect.

"Then came Obamacare," he said. "She could not keep her doctor ... unless she paid an additional $50,000 in out-of-pocket expenses for the birth of her precious little girl, just born."

"The monthly premiums have quadrupled," Trump said of Whalen's family. "Their deductible is a staggering $15,000."

The other person Trump mentioned was Dan Withrow, president of CSS Distribution Group in Louisville, Ky.

"Before Obamacare, his 11 employees enjoyed multiple options for high-quality, affordable health care," Trump said. "Everybody was happy, is that right?" the president asked, looking back at Withrow.

"Then came Obamacare, and they have fewer choices. Premiums are 150 percent higher. It's amazing."

"And creating new jobs is no longer really an option for Dan because the health insurance is so expensive."

Despite Trump's vitriol against Obamacare, and despite the fact that his fellow Republicans control both chambers of Congress, it is by no means certain that the president will accomplish his goal of repealing and replacing the landmark health-care law.

Republicans can afford only a handful of defections by GOP senators to pass a health-care bill in the Senate. And a number of such senators are concerned that a bill could lead to sharp declines in the number of Americans with health insurance.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill passed last month by the House would result in 23 million more people being uninsured by 2026 than would be the case if Obamacare remained intact.

That number is 3 million more than the total number of people who are estimated to have gained health insurance in the past seven years as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the more formal name of the Obamacare law.

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