KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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After Hemming And Hawing, White House Says It Will Make August Payments To Insurers

These payments, known as cost-sharing reductions, are paid to health plans to offset the costs of providing coverage to low-income consumers. The decision, which drew criticism from some congressional conservatives, signals, for now, that the administration has decided against triggering a collapse of the health law's individual market. This step could create a window of time and opportunity for Congress to pass some fixes to stabilize the markets.

The Associated Press: White House: Gov't To Make Health Law Payments This Month
The government will make this month’s payments to insurers under the Obama-era health care law that President Donald Trump still wants to repeal and replace, a White House official said Wednesday. ... A White House spokesman said “the August payment will be made,” insisting on anonymity to discuss the decision ahead of the official announcement. The so-called “cost-sharing” subsidies total about $7 billion this year and are considered vital to guarantee stability for consumers who buy their own individual health insurance policies. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 8/16)

The Hill: Trump To Make ObamaCare Payments To Insurers For August 
Insurers have been asking Congress and the administration for certainty that they’ll continue to receive cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs), which compensate insurers for subsidizing the out-of-pocket costs for low-income enrollees. Instead, the administration has been making the payments on a monthly basis. (Roubein, 8/16)

The Wall Street Journal: White House: Health-Insurer Payments Will Be Made In August
Governors and Democratic lawmakers have been urging President Donald Trump to continue the payments, known as cost-sharing reduction payments, because insurers have said they may pull out of the ACA’s insurance markets or raise premiums in 2018 without the funding. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in a report Tuesday that premiums for popular, midprice plans on the ACA exchanges would rise 20% next year without the payments. (Armour and Radnofsky, 8/17)

Los Angeles Times: Trump Administration, Facing Pressure, Agrees To Continue Obamacare Subsidy For Now
The decision to make this month’s payment, which was due next week, signaled that the administration has decided against immediately precipitating a collapse, potentially giving Congress time to pass a bipartisan package of fixes to some of the law’s problems. Leading Republican members of Congress have pressed the administration to keep making the payments, fearing that any move to cut them off would cause chaos in insurance markets. Trump has said voters would blame Democrats for any problems with the markets, but few Republican elected officials share that view. (Lauter, 8/16)

Politico: Trump Administration Will Make This Month’s Obamacare Payments But Leaves Program’s Future In Limbo
The administration's decision was immediately denounced by an influential GOP House conservative, suggesting mounting tensions among Republicans about how to move forward on health care after the repeal effort collapsed in the Senate late last month. ... "Instead of the executive branch issuing unconstitutional payments to bail out insurance companies, the Senate should continue working until they have passed a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare," [Rep. Mark] Walker said in a statement. "Their constituents are tired of their inability to fulfill their promise." (Demko, 8/16)

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