When Hurricane Maria struck, more than a week ago, it knocked out power to the whole of Puerto Rico, and it will be months before the electricity comes back. Lack of power can be deadly in itself, but what’s even worse is that, thanks largely to the blackout, much of the population still lacks access to drinkable water.
.. Until Thursday the Trump administration had refused to lift restrictions on foreign shipping to Puerto Rico, even though it had waived those rules for Texas and Florida.
.. although it’s more than a week since Maria made landfall, the Trump administration has yet to submit a request for aid to Congress.
.. Trump spent days after Maria’s strike tweeting about football players. When he finally got around to saying something about Puerto Rico, it was to blame the territory for its own problems
.. But while the Affordable Care Act survives, the Trump administration is openly trying to sabotage the law’s functioning.
This sabotage is taking place on multiple levels.
- The administration has refused to confirm whether it will pay crucial subsidies to insurers that cover low-income customers.
- It has refused to clarify whether the requirement that healthy people buy insurance will be enforced.
- It has canceled or suspended outreach designed to get more people to sign up.
.. These actions translate directly into much higher premiums: Insurers don’t know if they’ll be compensated for major costs, and they have every reason to expect a smaller, sicker risk pool than before.
.. the A.C.A. won’t actually collapse; it will just become a program more focused on sicker, poorer Americans — and the political opposition to repeal won’t go away. Finally, when the bad news comes in, everyone will know whom to blame.
.. A.C.A. sabotage is best seen not as a strategy, but as a tantrum. We can’t repeal Obamacare? Well, then, we’ll screw it up. It’s not about achieving any clear goal, but about salving the president’s damaged self-esteem.