Republicans may think they can kill off the Affordable Care Act by taking not-so-subtle steps to cripple signups and deprive insurers of necessary funds to keep them in the program, but Democrats aren’t going to let it happen quietly.
In fact, according to a New York Times report, a group called Protect Our Care intends to make a very public stink over Republican and Trump administration efforts to sink the ACA in lieu of another failed attempt at repeal-and-replace. The group plans to devote $1 million to digital ads nationwide to call attention to any sabotage efforts.
They’re also planning to launch a website criticizing Tom Price, secretary of health and human services, as well as conducting rallies and protests to call attention to Republicans’ votes on ACA repeal.
Brad Woodhouse, who will oversee Protect Our Care’s daily efforts to protect the ACA, says in the report that the need to defend the ACA became even more important after announcements by administration officials that the government’s advertising budget for ACA sign-up ads is being slashed. Department of Health and Human Services officials said that that budget, designed to encourage people to buy coverage on the ACA exchanges, is being cut by 90 percent to just $10 million.
Democrats view the move as the latest salvo in the battle to destabilize the exchanges and cause the system to collapse. They say the system has performed well, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services itself, despite the administration’s claims, and Trump’s tweets about the system “imploding.” As a result, polls have found that voters in both political parties would “be bothered by efforts to sabotage the health care law,” the report says.
Should the HealthCare.gov website go down during peak enrollment periods, or the administration withhold subsidies that keep premiums low, the group plans to call attention to those issues — as well as any others that threaten the functioning of the ACA. In the report, Woodhouse says, “We will highlight stuff like the website going down” if it happens, adding, “We will take our people out in the states and protest in front of Republican offices. We are going to create a hue and cry.”
Price is a target of the group’s efforts with the website, but also with “an aggressive media campaign” designed to make people question his statements and actions. Says Woodhouse, “Putting Tom Price in charge of the health care law is no different than putting the Cookie Monster in charge of dessert rationing. He doesn’t want to support the health care law. He wants to get rid of it.”
But not without a fight.