Trump’s health policies will provide $45B in annual benefit, White House economists claim

PoliticoPro: Adam Cancryn and Dan Diamond

The Trump administration’s health care policies — including the elimination of Obamacare’s individual mandate penalty and new rules around short-term and association health plans — will generate billions of dollars in benefits to Americans over the next decade, the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers asserted this morning.

The council, which guides President Donald Trump’s economic policy, concluded that zeroing out the ACA’s mandate penalty is worth $14 billion in benefits per year. Expanding access to short-term and association health plans, which are typically cheaper and less robust than Obamacare plans, is creating $16 billion in annual benefits, according to its analysis.

The Trump administration will generate another $15 billion in benefits per year through changes to labor taxation burdens.

On a call with reporters, senior administration officials said they included in their calculations both the actual projected dollars saved from the policies and the estimated value they would create for consumers who will spend their money on goods or services they value more highly.

“Our metrics include the value to those who are affected and can make choices in their own best interest,” said one official who spoke on a condition of anonymity.

Critics of the White House’s health policy decisions maintain that any short-term financial benefits to Americans from loosening federal health care regulations will ultimately be canceled out, as patients who choose less comprehensive coverage or even go uninsured end up facing larger health care bills.

The Trump administration has largely relied on administrative changes to reshape the health care system after failing to fully repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in 2017.

House Democrats are seeking now to reverse some of those moves, introducing a trio of bills this week that would restore ACA outreach and enrollment funding cut by the administration and reimpose Obama-era restrictions on short-term plans.