Will Donald Trump send Obamacare data down George Orwell’s “memory hole?”
That’s the fear spurring a group of researchers, who say the White House has encouraged them to make copies of official data related to the Affordable Care Act because of worries that the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump will erase it, a new report says.
Politico reported that several dozen independent researchers on their own had begun copying Obamacare data and documents in a race to beat the Jan. 20 inauguration of Trump, an avid critic of President Barack Obama‘s signature health-care reform law.
But they “then got a boost from Jeanne Lambrew, the White House’s top health reform official, who also sounded alarms the new administration might expunge reams of information from public websites and end access to data,” Politco reported, citing researchers.
That hypothetical erasure would echo the “memory hole” in Orwell’s classic dystopian novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” The book’s protagonist Winston Smith works in the Ministry of Information, where he labors away at cutting out parts of archived newspaper stories that conflict with governing regime’s latest propaganda line, and disposes of them into a hole leading to a furnace, where they are burnt.
The data being copied by the researchers includes information about Obamacare enrollment and premiums, according to Politco.
A White House spokesman on Thursday told CNBC, “We’re not commenting on the Politico report.”
Earlier this month, it was revealed that climate researchers were also copying official government data about climate change because of concerns about Trump, who has said the idea that humans are affecting the climate is a “hoax” and promised to cancel the Paris accord on climate change.
Trump’s transition team reportedly also asked the U.S. Energy Department to give it the names of employees who worked on Obama’s climate initiatives. The department, in turn, refused to comply with that request.
“We are going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department,” department spokesman Eben Burnham-Snyder said last week. “We will be forthcoming with all publicly available information with the transition team. We will not be providing any individual names to the transition team.”
Trump has vowed to repeal Obamacare and replace it with better legislation, but it is not clear what that replacement plan will look like.
The ACA has been credited with expanding health coverage to about 20 million Americans in the past several years, lowering America’s uninsured rate to its lowest rate ever.
But the law also has been criticized for sharp increases in premiums charged for individual health insurance plans sold on Obamacare exchanges for 2017, and also for relatively high deductibles.
Critics also object to the law requiring most Americans to have some form of health coverage or pay a fine, as well as to the ACA mandating a minimum threshold for benefits that insurers must offer.