LOWELL SUN: Warren: Business leaders should oppose Trump As originally appearing in The Lowell Sun
BY COLIN A. YOUNG
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
BOSTON — Though the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the American Health Care Act failed last week, the battle over health care in Washington, D.C. will likely continue to rage in less visible ways, U.S. Elizabeth Warren told business leaders Monday.
“If you think we’re past that because health care reform failed last Friday and has been taken off the table, I just want to say, think again,” Warren said.
The American Health Care Act, a bill favored by President Donald Trump and some Republicans in Congress, was pulled from consideration Friday when it became clear that House Speaker Paul Ryan did not have enough support to shepherd it through the House. Trump and Ryan both said they plan to turn to other issues, though Trump said he would be willing to work with Democrats once the ACA “explodes” under the weight of rising costs and fewer consumer options.
“Trump is now rooting for the Affordable Care Act to fail and it’s important to think about what that means,” Warren said Monday. “Within the administration, without going to Congress, there are many places where they can make it just more difficult for the Affordable Care Act to succeed.”
U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano suggested a similar scenario, that while Trump’s White House was unable to pass a reform bill in Congress the executive branch could attempt to undermine the ACA in order to compel further action on health care.
“I fully expect that in the months ahead there will be other efforts to undermine the ACA. There may or may not be more legislative proposals, but there will certainly be regulatory actions that will undermine the ACA,” Capuano wrote in a newsletter to constituents. “Remember, after his defeat the President was quoted as saying let the ACA ‘explode.’ That ONLY happens if his Administration allows it either by malicious action or callous inaction. We must continue to be vigilant.”
Supporters of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) said it would reduce the federal deficit and give American consumers more affordable options than are available under the ACA. Last year alone, the average premium on ACA exchanges rose by about 22 percent while about 20 percent of customers had only one plan to choose, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
But for Massachusetts, the AHCA would have resulted in $1 billion less in federal revenue for Massachusetts in 2020, $1.3 billion less in 2021 and $1.5 billion in 2022, “with likely a greater annual impact in the years that follow,” Gov. Charlie Baker wrote to the state’s congressional delegation last week.
While Trump considers economic growth one of his major policy goals, Warren told New England business leaders to join the opposition fighting Trump’s agenda because, she said, it will be economically advantageous for them to do so.
“From the bottom of my heart, please get in this fight,” she said to the room of business leaders. “It is in your economic interest to be in these fights.”
Health care was one of three topics Warren focused on as she addressed a luncheon hosted by the New England Council in Boston’s seaport Monday, a speech in which the state’s senior senator took direct aim at the president from her first sentence and did not retrain her sights throughout the 15-minute speech.
“Donald Trump has been in office for two months now and he has delivered one punch after another to working families, to poor families across this country,” Warren said. She added, “America is worried and it’s worried about its future. What I’m worried about is that Donald Trump and his reckless plans that the Republicans have put forward will deal another blow to America’s working families that they just can’t survive and they will fundamentally change our country.”
Along with health care, Warren highlighted immigration and the federal budget as the policy areas most critical for Massachusetts.
The state’s senior senator said the cuts proposed in Trump’s budget blueprint would be “devastating” to Massachusetts, particularly the “meat ax” that the plan would take to funding from the National Institutes of Health.
Trump’s executive action on immigration, Warren said, “threatens how we have really built an economy in New England going forward” and imposes a chilling effect on immigrants from around the world who consider coming to America.
“It’s a serious problem because it hurts our families, it’s a serious problem because it has the potential to hurt our economy, but it’s a serious problem because it threatens how we have really built an economy in New England going forward, with our colleges and our universities, with our innovation economy, with our tourism economy,” Warren said.
Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said at an economic conference in Boston earlier this year that as the Baby Boomer generation ages out of the workforce, a lack of immigration would be “a very significant constraint on the economy’s potential growth.”
“Not only do we need to maintain the level of immigration that we have now, which is about a million per annum — that’s legal and illegal — but we need more,” Zandi said. “In fact, I think the biggest problem businesses are going to face going forward is a lack of labor. It’s going to be a very tight labor market.”