Medical

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.

But supporters of the ACA criticized the CMS announcement as the latest move by the Trump administration to undermine Obamacare.

Democrats, meanwhile, are seizing on the unexpected action by characterizing it as another example of the administration sabotaging ObamaCare, a key Democratic message heading into the November midterm elections. Small insurers often complain about risk adjustment payments because they end up paying their larger competitors, who tend to have the sickest patients.

President Barack Obama's signature law, the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in March 2010.

Democrats, meanwhile, used the opportunity to point the finger at Republicans.

More: Health care will define the midterms.




Insurance lobbyists said that they were puzzled and confused as to why the administration suspended the payments at this time. "They're just trying to figure out what the numbers are at this point". "It will allow more companies to get into the insurance market".

Legal experts said there were several ways the administration could have dealt with the situation, without going so far as to suspend the program.

CMS officials did not say how long the suspension would last or what would cause payments to be restored. If the administration makes a good faith effort to resolve the court ruling, the issue could be fixed within weeks and not have a significant long-term impact. No taxpayer subsidies are involved. The payments work this way: The government takes money from insurers with healthier, low-risk customers, and gives it to insurers with less-healthy, higher-risk customers. The ruling barred Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from making further collections or payments under the program, including amounts for the 2017 benefit year, until the litigation is resolved. "We are continuing that process today and over the course of this week".

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. "There is a need to analyze insurers case-by-case and account for their competitive landscapes", said Tinglong Dai, an associate professor of operations management and business analytics at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School.

Major insurer groups said Saturday the administration's action interferes with a program that's working well.

The payments can be controversial, Dai said.


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