Health Care

Trump administration halts billions in Obamacare payments to health insurers

Trump administration halts billions in Obamacare payments to health insurers”

The Trump administration said Saturday that it is temporarily halting billions of dollars of payments created to help insurers meet the Affordable Care Act requirement that they provide coverage regardless of whether a person is healthy or sick.

The Trump administration on Monday announced another nail in the coffin of Obamacare, declaring it would withhold the payment of risk-adjusted premiums to insurers. The permanent program was meant to reduce the incentive for health insurers to cherry-pick healthy members.

Late past year, it said it would halt so-called cost-sharing payments, which offset some out-of-pocket healthcare costs for low-income patients.

The mainstream media report offered more criticism from supporters of the Affordable Care Act. "And costs for taxpayers will rise as the federal government spends more on premium subsidies", the group said.

The program is critical to markets under the Affordable Care Act because insurers with healthier consumers enrolled in plans reimburse insurers with sicker and more expensive enrollees.

"Any action to stop disbursements under the risk adjustment program will significantly increase 2019 premiums for millions of individuals and small-business owners, and could result in far fewer health plan choices", said Justine G. Handelman, a senior vice president of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

More: Health care will define the midterms.

Reuters' characterization of the move is that "President Donald Trump's administration has used its regulatory powers to undermine Obamacare after the Republican-controlled Congress past year failed to repeal and replace the law". But the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law, finding that the fine consumers faced for not buying insurance was actually a tax. The risk-adjustment program has been a source of frustration for small insurers and ACA co-ops that claim the formula makes their membership bases look healthier than they are.

Officials said Saturday that the administration is acting because of conflicting rulings in lawsuits filed by some smaller insurers who question whether they're being fairly treated. "It moves us back to some extent to the status quo where people with pre-existing conditions found it very hard to get insurance". The Maryland Insurance Administration has a hearing scheduled for July 31.

President Donald Trump's administration has used its regulatory powers to undermine the ACA on multiple fronts after the Republican-controlled Congress previous year failed to repeal and replace the law propelled by Democratic President Barack Obama. Many agree-Democrats and Republicans-that a person with a pre-existing condition needs health insurance coverage and should not be denied on that fact. The fund would be separate from the federal risk adjustment payments and could allow the insurers to reduce their requested rate increases by as much as 30 percent. Following the decision, CMS asked the court to reconsider its ruling.

These moves are prompting some insurers to request premium hikes for 2019 in the double digits.



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