Who Is Joshua Kushner? Jared's Brother Rips Into Trump's Obamacare Attacks
In an op-ed published Friday, Joshua Kushner criticized President Trump's efforts to undo Obamacare, even though his brother Jared is one of the president's top advisers. In the Axios essay, the founder of Oscar Health Insurance warned that Trump's decisions could bring chaos to the health care market, as well as create "confusion" among those looking to sign up for insurance. This is the first time that the younger Kushner has spoken up against Trump's policies, even though his entire business is built on the ACA.
Kushner's op-ed, entitled "The individual market will thrive in the long run," was co-authored with Oscar Health CEO Mario Schlosser. Kushner and Schlosser especially made clear their disapproval of Trump's "sporadic lip service" on the topic of health care. They wrote, "the administration's cuts to outreach and sporadic lip service to repealing the ACA do nothing to stanch growing confusion among shoppers."
In fact, it is the executive branch's lackluster management of the ACA that seems to most upset Kushner and Schlosser. Apart from the confusion that Trump's words and tweets inflict upon consumer understanding of the ACA, the authors also take issue with underwhelming federal efforts to enroll new customers.
"When HealthCare.gov is down for maintenance every Sunday, Oscar will be up — consumers in our states will be able to get subsidized coverage on our website," Kushner and Schlosser promise. They are referring to planned 12-hour maintenance on the HealthCare.Gov site, scheduled on one of two weekend days, every weekend during the open enrollment period.
Commenting on the timing of said maintenance, Benjamin Hart at New York Magazine wrote, "No explanation was given for the outages, but given the administration’s previous efforts to sabotage the insurance markets, it’s not paranoid to view this maintenance schedule as a plan to keep down enrollment."
The two were not entirely critical of recent changes to the ACA. They wrote that "cuts to cost-sharing reduction subsidies" will actually make plans more affordable by increasing "subsidies for many low income consumers." Presumably, they are referring to Trump's widely controversial proposal to slash subsidy payments that reimburse insurers covering low-income patients. How Kushner and Schlosser see these cuts making insurance more affordable is not detailed in their piece; many other analysts have predicted just the opposite.
The Axios op-ed plays up Oscar Health's attempt to pick up what it clearly sees as the administration's slack, particularly in ad outreach to potential consumers.
Perhaps because of their marketing, Kushner's health insurance company is bullish on their ability to enroll more customers this year than in years past. "We project that Oscar will enroll significantly higher membership across our six states this year," Kushner and Schlosser wrote.
Both men believe that the individual insurance market will eventually be a success. They tout their company's use of telemedicine, wherein Oscar insurance enrollees contact a physician via electronic device, rather than head straight for an emergency room. Citing the current favor enjoyed by Medicare Advantage Plans, they note the program didn't always look destined for greatness:
Between 1998 and 2002, the number of private Medicare+Choice plans — what are now known as Medicare Advantage plans — was cut in half, to less than 150. After a legislative fix in 2003, the market recovered and matured, and seniors this year will have over 3,000 Medicare Advantage plans to choose from.
It's unclear how Jared has reacted to his brother's public opposition to President Trump's intention to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Jared, the son-in-law and senior adviser to the president, rarely opens up to the media.
But if Kushner has the ear of his brother, and if Jared has the ear of the president, maybe this bit of history will make it all the way to the Oval Office. Whether of not Trump can be persuaded to stop sabotaging the health care law — as critics and experts have said he's trying to do — remains unclear.