Political Notes — Trump moves to implode the ACA

[private]Donald Trump signed off on two executive orders Thursday that could potentially wreck the Affordable Care Act, the federal law that’s provided healthcare coverage to millions of lower-income Americans.

Trump first issued an order that that would make it easier for individuals and small businesses to buy health insurance that is cheaper but also provides skinnier coverage and fewer protections than are available under Obamacare.

Late Thursday night, the White House announced that Trump would also cut off cost sharing reductions (CSRs), which are federal payments to insurers that subsidize premiums for low-income consumers who get their coverage through the insurance exchanges.

These CSRs total an estimated $7 billion to $9 billion a year and help make coverage affordable for millions of ACA participants.

The presidential actions are intended to achieve Trump’s oft-stated goal of making Obamacare “implode” so that congressional Democrats would be forced to bargain with the White House over the healthcare issue.

“The Democrats ObamaCare is imploding,” Trump tweeted Friday morning. “Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix!”

A cave-in by the opposition party doesn’t seem likely at this point.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a joint statement that said: “It is a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America. Make no mistake about it, Trump will try to blame the Affordable Care Act, but this will fall on his back and he will pay the price for it.”

Trump’s moves were cheered by Republicans and small business groups, but criticized by Democrats and healthcare organizations that predicted the actions would destabilize the healthcare insurance market.

“President Trump has proven once again he is willing to take bold action, even when Congress won’t,” Georgia Sen. David Perdue said. “I applaud the president’s courage to take action and support this move emphatically.”

“Allowing insurers to sell narrow, low-cost health plans likely will cause significant economic harm to women and older, sicker Americans who stand to face higher-cost and fewer insurance options,” said six physician groups in a joint statement.

There is a chance that Congress could take action to appropriate the funds needed to pay the CSRs.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) have been discussing for several weeks a way to keep the the subsidy payments in place, but no legislation has emerged yet for a Senate vote.

GPA snares two new customers

The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) has signed two new customers to use the state’s shipping facilities in Savannah.

Noble House, a furniture supplier, will build a 630,000-square-foot facility to serve the eastern half of the country. Home accessories company Best Choice will build 345,000 square feet of industrial space.

GPA said the new activity will increase Savannah’s industrial inventory to more than 57 million square feet, with less than 2 percent of that currently available for lease.

Beach moves

State Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), who’s been running the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce for 15 years as its president, is leaving the organization at the end of this year to become executive director of the North Fulton Community Improvement District.

“I look forward to continuing to serve the people of this region both with the CID and the Senate,” Beach said. “Resigning from the Chamber was a difficult decision, but one that I feel is best for me personally and for the community, as I will have more time to dedicate to these two areas.”

Anti-gay Democrat apologizes

In one of the stranger political stories to hit this week, a Democratic candidate in the special election in State Senate District 6 has apologized for expressing views on social media that were anti-gay and anti-woman.

However, Jaha Howard said he still believes it is a sin to be gay.

Patrick Saunders of GA Voice broke the story:

. . . Jaha Howard has apologized for the anti-gay and misogynistic views he expressed in a series of social media posts from 2011 to 2014. The apology came in a statement posted to his campaign Facebook page in response to Georgia Voice’s story early Thursday afternoon that uncovered the controversial Facebook posts.

However, in a follow-up dialogue with people in the comments section, he doubled down on some of the views, confirming that he believes being gay is a sin, that he doesn’t know whether being gay is a choice and that women shouldn’t be in the ministry.

In the initial posts in question, Howard said that he believes that “women should only teach other women” and wonders if there is a “a homosexual agenda in public education” and if the Girl Scouts “are being used to push a [sic] pro-abortion and pro-homosexuality positions.” Howard made similar comments in over 10 different Facebook posts.

“Today I was embarrassed and disappointed to read some of my own insensitive social media posts from years ago,” Howard wrote on Facebook late Thursday afternoon. “Unintentionally, I greatly offended many of the same people I’m working hard to represent and defend in the State Senate. I’m deeply sorry.”

Howard, a pediatric dentist, is one of eight candidates running in the Nov. 7 special election to replace Hunter Hill.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: ACA , Brandon Beach , Donald Trump , Georgia Ports Authority , Jaha Howard