Insurance companies anxious over Trump decision on federal subsidies

Sen. Susan Collins R Maine is surrounded by reporters as she arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington before a test vote on the Republican health care bill. Collins who was one of three Republican senators vot

Congress and the White House don't have much time to lose. Here's a look at Trump's claim, and the reality. Merely a halfway house towards a government-run single payer system where bureaucrats took on the worst cases while insurance companies got the cream.

In fact, at the end of July, President Trump tweeted that he would deny insurance providers federal subsidies - which he called "BAILOUTS" - as well as "BAILOUTS" to members of Congress. We provide an overview in the podcast, and make the case for better efforts to fix the USA health care system than we've seen so far this year. Although he didn't specify what he meant by greater flexibility, some Senate Republicans have urged that insurers be allowed to issue policies that do not cover all of the "essential health benefits" required under the ACA, as well as policies that charge older enrollees higher premiums than now permitted. Kristine Grow, spokeswoman for the insurance industry group America's Health Insurance Plans, said Monday that halting the federal payments would boost premiums for people buying individual policies by 20 percent. But the provision was added under political pressure, to avoid the perception that lawmakers were writing a law for the public that they themselves would be able to avoid.

All in all, it looks more and more members from both parties are trying to work together on health care, and looking to get the president to the same. Most were kicked out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which other government workers use. But if they lose the government subsidies, they will have to raise premiums by about 19 percent, Pellegrini said. Although employer contributions vary, 72 percent is in line with what other businesses offer their employees, said John Arensmeyer, head of the Small Business Majority.

The case is now on hold at the request of both sides.

First, Obamacare, as the ACA is known.

Since taking office, the president has dangled the possibility that his administration might cut off payments being made to insurers as part of Obamacare-money that insurers say is vital to stabilizing the health law's insurance exchanges.

His chief counselor Kellyanne Conway said on "Fox News Sunday" that he was still deciding whether to act on his threat to end Obamacare's cost-sharing reduction payments.

The subsidies, totaling about $7 billion a year, help reduce deductibles and copayments for consumers with modest incomes.

State regulators are also growing increasingly concerned that they may see a mass exodus of insurers in coming weeks if the administration doesn't agree to fund the cost-sharing payments, said Julie Mix McPeak, president-elect of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The appellate court order allowing states to intervene means the Trump administration can not unilaterally stop the CSR payments and dismiss the appeal, according to Tim Jost, emeritus professor at the Washington and Lee University School of Law and an expert on healthcare reform. A U.S. District Court judge in May 2016 agreed with House Republicans that the Obama administration had been illegally funding the payments without congressional appropriations.

Trump could make a decision on whether to continue making the payments as soon as this week. He urged President Donald Trump to continue to support the exchanges through September. Asked about Tuesday's order, a spokesperson for Speaker Paul Ryan said in an email that Ryan "believes repeal and replace is the best course of action and that the Senate needs to act".



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