UPDATED: Trump’s Threat to Sabotage Insurance Markets Could Hurt Millions
August 7, 2017
Donald Trump’s threat to sabotage the country’s health insurance markets by ending cost sharing subsidies would devastate some of our country’s most vulnerable communities. Millions of Americans could see their premiums increase by as much as an average of 19 percent due to Trump’s recklessness. 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.
Below is more coverage from across the country:
*NEW*: Minnesota Star Tribune Editorial: Put consumers first by stabilizing, not sabotaging, health care law
“The CSRs are one possible executive branch action for doing this, which is why Trump has aired the possibility of cutting off funding. But this ill-advised move would backfire. Insurers are legally required to provide this aid, with reimbursement from the federal government. If the industry doesn’t get paid, it passes along these costs through higher consumer premiums — a reality that Thune’s position reflects.”
*NEW*: Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel Editorial: Payments crucial to ACA market must be maintained
“If Trump stops the payments, insurance companies offering plans through the exchanges would either raise premiums to account for lost funding, or leave the market altogether.”
“The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that premiums would rise an additional 19 percent on average, and 21 percent in states that have not expanded Medicaid, or MaineCare as it is known here.”
“The increases would have to be absorbed by individuals whose income is too high to qualify for premium subsidies through the ACA, provided they don’t drop insurance altogether.”
*NEW*: USA Today: OPINION: Trump doesn’t care about your health insurance
“After Senate attempts to repeal at least some of the Affordable Care Act plan went up in a poof of gray exhaust last week Trump vowed to ‘Let Obamacare implode,’ which means continue the sabotage of the ACA that has been one of his administration’s few accomplishments. Then the commander in grief tweeted a threat to withhold the ‘BAILOUTS for insurance companies,’ referring to cost-sharing reduction payments that reimburse insurers for services to low-income Americans that have already been rendered.”
“Without those payments, insurance premiums in the individual market can be expected to rise by 15 percent to 21 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And in exchange for these higher prices, the federal government — also known as ‘you’ — would end up paying out billions more for coverage than is projected now, as the need for higher subsidies cancels out any benefit of stiffing insurers.”
*NEW*: Detroit Free Press: Opinion: How Obamacare's saboteurs are raising your health care cost
“The most imminent threat to the health of the individual insurance market, of course, is Trump's threat to stop reimbursing insurers for the discounted co-pays they give to lower-income policyholders. The president's cynical premise is obvious: If Republican lawmakers can't figure out how to repeal Obamacare, maybe his administration can starve it to death.”
“More than four-fifths of Michiganders who purchase health insurance on the state exchange reap a tax credit for doing so. The cost-sharing reduction payments Trump keeps threatening to withhold, known in the insurance industry as CSRs, are designed to reduce the cost of coverage for lower-income policyholders further by subsidizing the deductibles they have to pay for prescriptions and medical services.”
“Policyholders who qualify for such discounts will continue to enjoy them through the end of 2017, no matter what the Trump administration does, because the discounts are baked into the coverage plans they signed up for.”
*NEW*: Washington Post: The first Affordable Care Act enrollment season of the Trump era is still a mystery
“As the fate of the Affordable Care Act dangled dramatically in the Senate last month, the Trump administration abruptly canceled contracts with two companies that have helped thousands of Americans in 18 cities find health plans under the law.
“The suspension of the $22 million contracts, which ends enrollment fairs and insurance sign-ups in public libraries, is one of the few public signs of how an administration eager to kill the law will run the ACA’s approaching fifth enrollment season.”
*NEW*: Albuquerque Journal: Local mom is one of the faces of Obamacare fight
“Chavez worries that Congress will cut Medicaid and end the expansion that made her eligible for health care. And on top of that, she worries that insurance providers won’t be required to cover people with pre-existing conditions, which she and her son both have.”
The Fresno Bee Editorial: Trump could sabotage health care. What California should do to protect its residents
“But Trump still could sabotage the individual market in a variety of ways by failing to pay to advertise the Affordable Care Act; failing to enforce the individual mandate requiring people to obtain health insurance; and failing to provide subsidies to help lower income people pay for their care.
“The feds provide about $700 million to help poor people in California cover the cost of their deductibles and copayments. That money, which flows to insurance companies, apparently could be cut without congressional approval. Such an irresponsible action would be a direct hit on insurance companies and disrupt what now is a functioning market.”
The Dallas Morning News: Trump's threat to end Obamacare subsidies would hurt middle class the most, experts say
“President Donald Trump is threatening to further destabilize the health insurance market unless GOP lawmakers try — again — to pass an Obamacare repeal bill.
“Health policy analysts say even if Trump doesn’t act on his threat, imperiling the payments could cause insurers, who must set their rates for the following year by September, to hike premiums or leave the ACA exchanges altogether.
“‘To some extent, it doesn’t even matter if the Trump administration follows through on this threat,’ said Cynthia Cox, a healthy policy expert with the Kaiser Family Foundation. ‘We’re already seeing insurers raise the rates more than they otherwise would because of political uncertainty.’”
The Atlanta Journal Constitution: Georgia leaders eye Medicaid waivers after Obamacare repeal fails
“The collapse of the GOP health care overhaul has Georgia’s leaders wrestling over whether to stand pat and let a funding crisis continue to threaten the state’s fragile hospital system or seek changes that could open the spigots for more federal dollars.
“Amid uncertainty about how insurance markets will be affected by the U.S. Senate’s inability to repeal the Affordable Care Act, influential conservatives in the state are already preparing for a debate next year over how to craft waivers to seek what could be vast changes to the state’s Medicaid program.
“They cast the waivers as a conservative effort to shave the state’s costs by imposing new standards on recipients. They note that state officials would turn to a familiar figure to sign off on the changes: former Georgia U.S. Rep. Tom Price, now Trump’s health secretary. And they steer well clear of the E-word — expansion — to describe how they might work.”
The Newman Times Herald: Health care ideas, questions multiply
“The first decision on the national level may involve the $7 billion in government subsidies to insurers, which enable those companies to reduce the out-of-pocket costs for lower-income consumers in the exchanges.
“President Trump has vowed to kill the subsidies, calling them insurer ‘bailouts.’ That would raise premiums for individuals in the exchanges, created by the ACA to offer insurance for people who don’t have job-based or government coverage.”
Florida Daily Post: Trump Isn’t Letting Obamacare Die; He’s Trying to Kill It
“In light of Republicans’ failure to undo the ACA, President Trump was quick to react on Twitter, stating that he would simply ‘let ObamaCare implode’ and have Democrats own the consequences. With Republicans holding all positions of power in Washington, D.C., these statements are startling by themselves.
“However, with Congressional efforts in limbo, the Trump Administration seems to be going a step further than ‘letting’ Obamacare fail. Indeed, it has emphasized an alternative strategy: actively sabotaging the Affordable Care Act.”
Florida Daily Post: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Needs a Helping Hand
“Consider the ramifications of ‘repealing and replacing.’ Even insurers have alerted our leaders that doing so will have intimidate impact on consumers. Low-income people who qualified for expanded Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act might be shielded for a year or two with the ‘repeal and replace’ plan. But then federal funding for their coverage would stop and states would have to decide whether to keep those able-bodied adults on the rolls.
“But most important of all, consider how dangerous the current administration and leading party have become to the health insurance of not just 12 million people, but almost an entire country.
“GOP candidates, including Trump, put repealing Obama’s statute at the top of their campaign pledges, contending it’s a failing system that’s leaving people with rising health care costs and less access to care.”
WLRN: Future Of The Affordable Care Act Remains Uncertain
“Over the weekend, President Trump tweeted, if a new health care bill is not approved quickly, bailouts for insurance companies and bailouts for members of Congress will end very soon. That's a threat to end subsidies that benefit low-income Americans who are insured through the Affordable Care Act. It's also a threat to end subsidies specific to health plans for members of Congress. Now this tweet, among others, adds more uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act after Friday's failure to repeal and replace it.”
Star Tribune: Minnesota health insurance shoppers brace for new rates
“‘There is so much uncertainty from year to year, we have no idea what to anticipate,’ said Judith Kissner, 57, a Chisago County resident who’s purchased individual policies for more than a decade. ‘I haven’t seen anything at the state or federal level to suggest premiums will go down or that choices in coverage will improve.’
“Insurers complain that the market is still clouded by uncertainty since the Trump administration hasn’t committed to continuing ‘cost-sharing reduction’ subsidies for low-income consumers. In addition, health plans aren’t clear how actively the administration will enforce the individual mandate.”
Pioneer Press: MN’s individual market insurance premiums could go down — if feds help
“President Donald Trump has been considering two actions that could drive premiums up higher compared to the proposals released Monday. One would be to cancel some payments for insurers with lower-income customers. Cox said the loss of that money could increase rates by up to 20 percent, though Minnesotans could see a smaller effect. That’s because many lower-income Minnesotans get their insurance through the state-run MinnesotaCare program… ‘If the Trump administration signals they’re not going to enforce the individual mandate, you might see insurers going back and asking for bigger rate increases,’ Cox said.”
Des Moines Register: Trump's threat to cut Obamacare funding could cause Iowa premiums to spike even more
“Iowans who buy their own health insurance could face even bigger premium increases next year if President Donald Trump follows through with a threat to cut off a major stream of Obamacare assistance, the state's sole remaining carrier said Monday…On Monday, Medica’s spokesman said the company would propose another 12 percent to 20 percent in increases on top of that 43 percent if Trump stops payments from a low-profile but important part of Obamacare.”
The Columbus Dispatch: Trump can kill Ohio plan to save health exchanges
“Insurance coverage is likely to be restored on the federal health exchange for Ohioans in at least 19 of 20 counties where insurers recently announced they are pulling out. But the measure appears to be only a temporary fix — and it may never happen if President Donald Trump carries out a threat to undermine Obamacare… Brock said the uncertainty in Washington could undermine arrangements in Ohio. ‘Nothing is really final final until these contracts are signed at the end of September,’ he said. ‘There are things at the federal level that could change this.’”
Public News Service: Latest Trump Tweets Have NH Advocates on Obamacare “Sabotage” Watch
“Uncertainty in the health insurance market can hit New Hampshire consumers in the pocketbook, and that's why local advocates say they are on ‘sabotage’ watch over declared efforts by President Donald Trump to ‘let Obamacare fail.’
“Apparently still angry over the failure of Republican lawmakers to pass a new health care bill, the president tweeted this weekend: ‘If a New HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for insurance companies and BAILOUTS for members of Congress will end very soon!’
“Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress, says attention needs to be paid to efforts by Trump and the U.S. House to undermine the Affordable Care Act.”
Connecticut Mirror: Even with Obamacare’s survival, a shakeup in CT healthcare system threatens
“Nearly 48,000 Connecticut residents benefit from the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) program, which subsidizes co-payments and deductibles for individuals and families who earn less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level. An end to the CSR payments would mean that moderate-income people would have larger out-of-pocket costs next year, even if the Affordable Care Act remains unchanged.
“The president’s threat to end CSR payments also might prompt Connecticut’s two remaining insurers to quit Access Health CT. Those insurers – Anthem and ConnectiCare – said the continuation of the payments will be a factor in their decisions whether to remain in the exchange.
“If both insurers leave Access Health CT, about 74,000 Connecticut residents whose monthly premiums are subsidized by the federal government would lose that help.”
Los Angeles Times: Here's how Trump could sabotage Obamacare
“If he wanted to, however, Trump could drop the appeal with little more than a stroke of a pen, in which case the ruling would go into effect and the payments would have to end immediately.
“That move would throw the exchanges into chaos. Insurers that counted on federal money could go bankrupt, leaving their enrollees without coverage. Many of those that weathered the immediate storm would eventually leave the exchanges anyway: How could they afford to do business with a faithless federal partner? Those that remained would have to hike their premiums to make up for the lost federal money.”