How Trump’s Threat to Halt Federal Health Insurance Payments Will Impact West Virginia

As Donald Trump prepares to descend on Huntington today, West Virginians are still in the dark on whether or not the president will decide to sabotage the state’s health insurance markets by withholding cost sharing reductions (CSRs). CSRs – federal payments that health insurance companies rely on to keep coverage affordable – are critical to the health and well-being of more than 15,000 West Virginians. If Trump makes good on his threat to eliminate them, he will devastate some of West Virginia’s most vulnerable communities and directly impact millions of Americans who could see their premiums by double digits. The mere suggestion to stop these federal payments has already created major uncertainty in the nation’s insurance market, causing insurers to raise premiums or leave markets entirely.

Insurance companies in West Virginia have sought to raise premiums by an average as much as nearly 30 percent.

CSR payments help keep coverage affordable for more than 15,000 West Virginians, which is 51 percent of the total marketplace enrollees in West Virginia.



West Virginia Public Broadcasting: Even Talking About Weakening Obamacare Provisions Weakens The Exchanges

“Every month, the Trump administration faces a deadline to pay what are called ‘cost-sharing reduction’ (or CSR) subsidies to insurers. Those are subsidies that reimburse insurers to help low-income marketplace customers afford health care, on top of the tax credits that help those people pay their premiums. A lawsuit filed by House Republicans during the Obama era has left the fate of those payments uncertain.

“Trump reportedly wants to end the payments, as Politico reported, but the White House chose this week to continue the payments once again. Still, the ongoing ambiguity about the future of the payments is apparently causing premiums to rise and insurers to pull out of markets.


“Ending the CSR payments could be catastrophic for the exchanges. It could cause premiums to rise by 19 percent or even more, as the Kaiser Family Foundation found in a recent analysis — and that assumes that insurers even stay in the exchanges, Kaiser added.”


Axios Map: Who loses if Trump cuts off health insurer payments

“We could get a decision from Trump today on whether the administration will keep paying insurers for their cost-sharing reduction subsidies to low-income people. A few things to keep in mind if he stops the payments:

“Insurers have to keep providing the subsidies anyway — they just won't be reimbursed. That's why they'd respond by raising premiums for next year by as much as another 20%.”


Wall Street Journal: Some Insurers Seek ACA Premium Increases of 30% and Higher

“Major health insurers in some states are seeking increases as high as 30% or more for premiums on 2018 Affordable Care Act plans, according to new federal data that provide the broadest view so far of the turmoil across exchanges as companies try to anticipate Trump administration policies.

“Big insurers in Idaho, West Virginia, South Carolina, Iowa and Wyoming are seeking to raise premiums by averages close to 30% or more, according to preliminary rate requests published Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.”