This article originally appeared on The Conversation. You can read it here.

With an eye on replacing the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration took one particularly critical action in October 2017. It discontinued cost-sharing reduction subsidy payments to health insurers participating in the ACA marketplaces.

But the response to those cuts was likely not what President Trump expected. State insurance commissioners and insurers used them to make marketplace health plans more affordable.

Premium decreases were large – so large that 4.2 million potential enrollees had the option to purchase a marketplace plan for free in 2019.

These changes made us wonder: Did President Trump's effort to sabotage the Affordable Care Act backfire? I'm a health economist at the University of Pittsburgh. Along with my colleague David Anderson, a policy expert on the Affordable Care Act, we tried to answer that question shortly after the payment cuts. We discovered that more than 200,000 people, using the platform in 2019, gained insurance in 37 states due to the Trump administration's actions. This finding may even be more important now as massive unemployment from the coronavirus pandemic leads to huge losses of employer-based insurance coverage – and ultimately more people enrolling in the marketplaces.

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