New polling indicates that the number of Americans without health insurance has risen to its highest level since 2014.
Overall, the national uninsured rate has steadily escalated since President Donald Trump assumed office. While the Trump administration and GOP lawmakers have asserted that the health care system under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is untenable and must be replaced, Democrats have accused the president of intentionally undermining the markets.
On Oct. 20, a Gallup national survey found that the uninsured rate among U.S. adults during the third quarter of 2017 had risen to 12.3 percent, a 1.4 percent increase -- 3.5 million Americans -- compared to the number of uninsured in the third quarter of 2016.
Gallup has been polling on the number of Americans with insurance since 2008. Since then, the uninsured rate peaked at 18 percent in 2013, shortly before key provisions of the ACA kicked in. After the health care law's individual mandate and Medicaid expansion were implemented, the uninsured rate swiftly dropped until it reached a record low of 10.9 percent in the third and fourth quarters of 2016.
The latest survey marks the highest rate of uninsured Americans since the fourth quarter of 2014, when 12.9 percent of U.S. adults were uninsured. Compared to the fourth quarter of 2016, the uninsured rate has increased by 1.1 percent among non-Hispanic whites, 1.5 percent among African Americans and 1.6 percent among Hispanics.
Republican lawmakers have made repeated attempts to repeal and replace the ACA. The GOP-majority Congress is not expected to consider any further repeal efforts before 2018, but Trump has recently made changes to the ACA through executive order.
On Oct. 12, Trump announced that he would discontinue cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, or federal subsidies that compensate insurance companies for helping pay the copayments and deductibles for low-income Americans' health care plans. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that ending the CSR payments would raise premiums for the ACA's silver plans by 20 percent in 2018.
On Oct. 13, Trump asserted on social media that Democrats would have to help repeal the ACA or be politically responsible for the destabilization of the health care markets, CNN reports.
"The Democrats ObamaCare is imploding," Trump tweeted out. "Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix it!"
The Senate Minority Leader, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, and the House Minority Leader, Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, accused Trump of single-handedly sabotaging the health care markets by discontinuing the CSR payments.
"It is a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America," Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement. "Make no mistake about it, Trump will try to blame the Affordable Care Act, but this will fall on his back and he will pay the price for it."
On Oct. 13, a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found that 71 percent of national adults wanted the Trump administration to do everything it could to make the ACA work while 21 percent wanted the administration to make the law fail so it could be replaced, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.