Tweet first, read later: Trump shares article blaming his policies for health care price increases

The danger of retweeting first, reading later.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

On Thursday morning, President Trump retweeted a tweet from his favorite morning show about how “Insurers [are] seeking huge premium hikes on ObamaCare plans.” Had Trump read the article, however, he would’ve seen that the story Fox & Friends highlighted on its program actually blamed him for those rate hikes.

The tweet Trump retweeted links to a foxnews.com story that’s primarily an aggregation of a Wall Street Journal report about rising Obamacare premiums. But the story, published Tuesday, makes clear that the Trump administration’s attempts to sabotage Obamacare are the primary culprit.

The Trump administration continues to be noncommittal about whether the federal government will continue to pay the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments for low-income people who purchase health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges. According to the Journal, uncertainty surrounding the CSR payments and whether the Trump administration will enforce Obamacare’s individual mandate are the primary drivers of higher premiums on the exchanges.

“In Montana, Health Care Service linked 17 percentage points of its 23% rate increase request to concerns about the cost-sharing payments and enforcement of the mandate that requires everyone to purchase insurance,” the Journal reports. “Kurt Kossen, a senior vice president at Health Care Service, said the company’s rate requests are driven by causes including growing health costs and ‘uncertainty and the associated risks that exist within this marketplace, including uncertainty around issues like the continued funding of [cost-sharing payments] and mechanisms that encourage broad and continuous coverage.'”

Michael Neidorff, chief executive of Centene Corp., told the Journal that within the exchanges, “there is relative stability.”

“The uncertainty is driven by these policies on the ACA,” he added.

Blue Cross of Idaho told the Journal that if the Trump administration just committed to making the CSR payments, premium increases would be in the low teens—about half of the 28 percent increase they’re requesting.

The Fox News story Trump retweeted quotes White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as saying, “A lot of us have lost focus on the fact that the system we have doesn’t work.” That comment echoes the sort of rhetoric Trump has used about Obamacare.

But Obamacare isn’t crashing or burning. In March, the Congressional Budget Office concluded that Obamacare exchanges are likely to “be stable in most areas.”

“The subsidies to purchase coverage combined with the penalties paid by uninsured people stemming from the individual mandate are anticipated to cause sufficient demand for insurance by people with low health care expenditures for the market to be stable,” the CBO wrote, debunking notions that Obamacare is in a “death spiral.”

This isn’t the first time Trump has referred his Twitter followers to a story, seemingly unaware that the piece in question makes him look bad. In February, Trump cited a Lawfare article in an attempt to build a case that the three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit made a bad decision when they declined to reinstate his Muslim ban.

But had Trump read the article, he would’ve seen that the author — Benjamin Wittes, editor in chief of Lawfare and a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution — concluded that the court actually made the right decision.

“The Ninth Circuit is correct to leave the [restraining order] in place, in my view, for the simple reason that there is no cause to plunge the country into turmoil again while the courts address the merits of these matters over the next few weeks,” Wittes writes, before concluding his piece by blasting the Trump administration’s “incompetent malevolence.”

Instead of coming across the passage he tweeted out from reading the article, it appears Trump was alerted to the Lawfare piece by watching cable news.