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Democratic senator declares: 'Obamacare is not hurting people

Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen told CNN that Obamacare is "not hurting people," but President Donald Trump's health care plan would. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) told CNN's "New Day" host Alisyn Camerota on Monday that former President Barack Obama's signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, is not hurting people — but President Donald Trump's health care plan would.

Van Hollen, a member of the Appropriations Committee and current chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, was responding to Trump's Monday morning remarks about Obamacare.

"If ObamaCare is hurting people, & it is," Trump tweeted. "[W]hy shouldn't it hurt the insurance companies & why should Congress not be paying what public pays?"

When asked about Trump's comments, Van Hollen rejected the premise that Obamacare is hurting anyone and insisted it was the GOP replacement plan that would have hurt Americans.

"Well, first of all, Obamacare is not hurting people. In fact, what would have really hurt people was if we passed Trumpcare," Van Hollen told Camerota. "We know from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that it would have thrown tens of millions of Americans off of affordable care."

Camerota challenged his response, reminding him that Obamacare is not entirely popular, saying that many Americans have "grave reservations" about the direction it is going.

"Nobody has said it's perfect. We've said from the very beginning we need to improve the exchanges," Van Hollen continued. "The first order of business is for the president to stop trying to sabotage the exchanges. There are a couple things that are totally within the power of the Trump administration."

Van Hollen went on to claim that Trump's threat to cut the cost-sharing subsidies has led insurers to increase premiums due to uncertainty in the market.

"The cost-sharing payments that you just mentioned — those have been going on for a long time — he's threatened to cut them off. That has created uncertainty and that's why you have insurance companies threatening to increase premiums," Van Hollen said, though he didn't offer any evidence to back up the assertion.

Van Hollen also said Trump should be enforcing the individual mandate to prevent the insurance companies from being bogged down by sick people and blamed Trump for not advertising the government exchanges more.

"Make sure you advertise the fact that the exchanges are now open and people should enroll," Van Hollen said, insisting Congress should be working to strengthen the exchanges instead of allowing them to fail.

Though Van Hollen cites Trump as the reason for increasing premiums, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini had a different take back in February, less than a month after Trump's inauguration.

"There isn't enough money in the ACA as it's structured to support the population that needs to be served," Bertolini told the Wall Street Journal.

"It is in a death spiral," he said, explaining that healthy people have decided to opt for the penalty, which has resulted in a smaller pool of sicker people.

One last thing…
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