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Trump’s On The Verge Of Exploding The Health Insurance Market

By in Huffington Post on May 19, 2017

By Jeffrey Young

President Donald Trump has had his finger on the detonator of the bomb to blow up Obamacare for months. Now he may be about to press it.

Trump told advisers earlier this week that he wants to cut off billions of dollars in payments to health insurance companies that serve the poorest enrollees in the Affordable Care Act exchanges, Politico reported Friday.

If Trump follows through on this threat, he could wreak havoc on the health insurance system. Insurance companies are likely to hike premiums or to stop selling to people who buy coverage via the exchanges, like HealthCare.gov and Covered California, or directly (rather than obtaining coverage through their employers or government programs like Medicare and Medicaid).

The results would be higher prices and fewer, if any, choices for consumers, and the effects could be felt quickly because many states would allow insurers to drop their customers right away in the absence of these payments. In short, this part of the health insurance market could fall apart under Trump’s watch if he doesn’t pay the money the federal government owes.

At issue are what’s called cost-sharing reduction payments ― these are essentially reimbursements to health insurance companies, which are required to reduce out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and copayments for low-income customers. A pending lawsuit brought by House Republicans against the Obama administration in 2014 has challenged the legality of these CSR payments.

“The White House has told Congress that it will make the May CSR, but has not made any commitment on further payments. No final decisions have been made at this time, and all options are on the table,” a White House official wrote Friday in an email to HuffPost.

The White House’s caginess about these payments has driven health […]    

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