FILE - In this June 22, 2017, file photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., arrives for a Senate Republican meeting on a health bill on Capitol Hill. McCain sent shockwaves through the Senate early on July 28 when he cast the deciding vote rejecting the GOP’s heath-care effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Prall: Dear President Trump, insurance companies don’t receive ‘bailouts’

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President Trump’s threat to pull subsidies from health insurance companies could have devastating effects.

By Jacob Prall

jacob-prall@uiowa.edu

Sen. John McCain’s “thumbs down” brought a wave of relief across the nation. Anyone paying attention knows how devastating the GOP health-care proposals would be to the economy and, far more importantly, to the lives of millions of Americans. Finally, we can leave this subject alone, at least for a little while. Folks with pre-existing conditions, illnesses in the family or without money to pay for insurance can breathe easier for now.

And then, of course, President Trump happened.

On Sunday, Trump took to his favorite policy platform, Twitter, to threaten ending subsidy payments to health insurers unless a health-care bill is passed by Congress. Here’s the tweet, in all its middleschool eloquence: “If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!”

Now, this tweet deserves a breakdown, because it’s all different kinds of crazy.

First off, let’s look at the legislative process. The president lacks even a basic understanding of our democracy, including how our legislative bodies function. The Senate was constructed by the Founding Fathers to operate slowly. The Senate guards against rash thinking and the tyranny of the masses through longer terms and deliberate, considered procedures. McCain voted against the health-care bill because it did the exact opposite — the bill was being rammed through the Senate with no input, no debate, and no consideration. Just because the president lacks the attention span to pass a piece of legislation doesn’t mean we must all suffer.

Perhaps shouting the word “BAILOUTS” changes its meaning. If not, Trump’s use of the word is downright moronic. Insurance companies are not receiving bailouts — they receive subsidies to cover pre-existing conditions and people who can’t fully pay for health insurance. Without subsidies, the companies would remove their coverage from millions, a legal fiasco in its own right. And then, like under the Senate GOP plan, people would die.

At the end of the day, making those subsidy payments is the law. It is illegal not to make those payments because the Executive Branch executes the laws put forth by Congress. Trump is not the law, the law is the law. He’s throwing a temper tantrum like a 5-year-old while simultaneously acting like a tyrant.

This is the problem with having a president who exists in an alternative reality. To him, this is all a game. He is threatening people’s lives and safety to get his way, all because he so desperately needs a win. Why does he need a win? Because his ego demands it. The president must stop playing politics with people’s lives. He must join the rest of us in the real world, in which people work hard and still can’t afford health insurance, where people’s lives are at stake, where you pay a whole lot more than $12 a year to get proper health insurance. But he won’t join us. His threats to Congress prove his total lack of commitment to the Americans who put him into power. Trump’s incompetence is disruptive, destructive, and deplorable — and now it could be deadly for U.S. citizens.

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