The Trump administration is expected to push ahead with a range of policies that affect healthcare next year despite Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives.
Democrats captured the House majority in the midterms because of their message on healthcare. But that is not stopping Donald Trump from moving ahead on his controversial health agenda which will please his right-wing supporters.
There are several key areas where the Trump administration is moving ahead on its own agenda that is the polar opposite of what House Democrats want to do.
There are four especially controversial moves that Trump officials want to make on health care in the coming year:
Take away protections for transgender people
The Trump administration wants to limit or completely eliminate federal protections for transgender individuals.
They want to change the definition of gender under a federal civil rights law to either male or female, as defined by a person’s sex at birth. The policy change is being promoted by the Department of Health and Human Services as well as other federal agencies.
The potential change has alarmed activists and medical professionals. The American Medical Association, the country’s largest physician lobbying group, said it will “oppose efforts to deny an individual’s right to determine their stated sex marker or gender identity.”
Stop abortion providers from getting federal money
The Trump administration plans to finalize regulations in January that would make it extremely difficult for abortion providers to receive federal family planning money.
The rule would ban clinics that receive Title X family planning funds from referring women for abortions.
This new regulation is aimed primarily at Planned Parenthood.
Approve state Medicaid work requirements
Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services will continue in 2019 to allow states to impose Medicaid work requirements. So far they have approved work requirements in five states and several more states will be getting approvals in the next few months.
Kentucky was allowed last week to charge Medicaid premiums, impose Medicaid work requirements and remove people from the program if they don’t comply with the new rules.
Most people agree that the Trump administration’s authorizing of Medicaid work requirements are a way to punish poor people, to kick people off Medicaid and save money for the states that implemented them.
Roll back emergency preparedness rules for nursing homes
The Trump administration is moving to change safety rules for nursing homes despite fierce opposition from Democrats in Congress. They say the new rules will reduce regulatory burdens and save money for nursing home providers.
Critics of the new rule, however, say that instead of making nursing homes safer, the new rules will be bad for the elderly and put them at risk.
Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said the administration is moving in the opposite direction of what they should be doing in the wake of hurricanes last year that left dozens of people dead across multiple states. He said the administration is ignoring recommendations from safety experts in order to “pad the pockets of medical providers.”
Other Trump initiatives
In addition to the above, the Trump administration will continue its efforts to weaken provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including taking away protections for preexisting health conditions. They also will fight any Democratic plan to expand Medicare or provide “Medicare for All.”
In 2019 there will be many battles taking place in Washington between Republicans and Democrats, and one of the most intense — and most important — of these will be over the issue of healthcare.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.