Newly announced double-digit premium hikes for those on the ObamaCare exchanges are handing Donald Trump a political weapon in key swing states where residents could be facing rate increases even higher than the national average.
The administration announced Monday that premiums for a midlevel plan are set to rise an average of 25 percent in 2017 in the 39 states that use the federal HealthCare.gov. The rate hikes vary widely across different cities and states, but several battlegrounds could be facing increases that are considerably higher.
According to administration figures, the average premium increase for a popular “silver” plan will rise 116 percent in Arizona; 40 percent in North Carolina; and 53 percent in Pennsylvania.
These projections do not factor in taxpayer subsidies, which many enrollees – though not all – would receive to defray the cost.
The impact on swing states was not lost on the struggling Trump campaign, which blasted out a lengthy email Tuesday declaring “ObamaCare’s failure hits swing states hard” and detailing projected rate increases “from Arizona to Wisconsin.”
“ObamaCare has to be repealed and replaced,” Trump said Tuesday on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom,” calling the law a “disaster.”
He’s been hammering the premium woes on the stump ever since the administration on Monday outlined the hikes, which many states already had been reporting for weeks. The ObamaCare news comes as Trump has slipped in the polls, seemingly suffering from a battering of bad news that started with the leak of a 2005 tape showing him making crude comments about women and accelerated with multiple accusations of sexual harassment and assault which he adamantly denies.
Meanwhile, the daily drip-drip of embarrassing revelations from thousands of leaked emails from Hillary Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s account do not seem to have seriously damaged the Democratic nominee’s poll numbers.
Still, polls show Clinton with only a slight lead in a number of battlegrounds, including those being hit hard by premium increases.
In Pennsylvania, she leads by an average of 5 points, according to the RealClearPolitics average. In Arizona, her average lead is just over a point. In North Carolina, she is ahead by 2 points.
And while ObamaCare hikes are not hitting voters in the critical states of Ohio and Florida as hard, Trump now has the edge over Clinton in Ohio – and a new Bloomberg Politics poll showed him ahead by 2 points in Florida, where Trump is campaigning heavily and ripping ObamaCare on a regular basis.
“I don’t know if it’s going to swing the election but [premium hikes] certainly could have an impact,” said Marc Thiessen, former speechwriter for former President George W. Bush, citing the impact in battleground states.
The ObamaCare problems could also fuel the case of Republicans running in tight House and Senate races, as they try to hold their majority on Capitol Hill.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said Monday that Republicans are offering a plan to repeal the law and replace it “with real, patient-centered solutions that fit your needs and your budget. We don't have to accept this kind of sticker shock."
He and Trump both said the law is “blowing up.”
But Democrats say these claims over overheated.
“Trump’s latest claim that the Affordable Care Act is ‘blowing up’ is as unfounded as his claim that he’s ‘winning the election,’” Democratic National Committee Interim Chairwoman Donna Brazile said in a statement. “The fact is: 20 million Americans have coverage under the ACA who wouldn’t otherwise, and the national uninsured rate is at its lowest in our nation’s history. It’s true that some premiums for midlevel health plans on the federal exchange could rise in the future, but it’s also true that for most Americans on those plans, their ACA subsidies will rise to keep the plans affordable.”
A Clinton campaign spokeswoman contrasted her approach with Trump’s.
“Hillary Clinton wants to build on the progress we’ve made and fix what’s broken, while Donald Trump would rip up the ACA, reverse the progress we have made and start this fight all over again,” spokeswoman Julie Wood said. “Clinton has a serious plan to improve choices and increase competition, including a public option and a Medicare buy-in.”