KHN Morning Briefing

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Following Through On Months Of Threats, Trump Vows To ‘Immediately’ End Insurer Subsidies

The move to end the subsidies, which help low-income consumers afford coverage, is likely to cause upheaval in the health law's marketplace. Democrats are blasting the decision as "spiteful" and another way that the president is trying to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.

The New York Times: Trump To Scrap Critical Health Care Subsidies, Hitting Obamacare Again
President Trump will scrap subsidies to health insurance companies that help pay out-of-pocket costs of low-income people, the White House said late Thursday. His plans were disclosed hours after the president ordered potentially sweeping changes in the nation’s insurance system, including sales of cheaper policies with fewer benefits and fewer protections for consumers. The twin hits to the Affordable Care Act could unravel President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement, sending insurance premiums soaring and insurance companies fleeing from the health law’s online marketplaces. (Pear, Haberman and Abelson, 10/12)

The Associated Press: Trump To Issue Stop-Payment Order On Health Care Subsidies
The Department of Health and Human Services made the announcement in a statement late Thursday. "We will discontinue these payments immediately," said acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan and Medicare administrator Seema Verma. In a separate statement, the White House said the government cannot legally continue to pay the so-called cost-sharing subsidies because they lack a formal authorization by Congress. However, the administration had been making the payments from month to month, even as Trump threated to cut them off to force Democrats to negotiate over health care. (10/13)

The Wall Street Journal: Trump To End Subsidies To Health Insurers
“We believe that the last Administration overstepped the legal boundaries drawn by our Constitution,” acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan and Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said in a joint statement. “Congress has not appropriated money for [the payments], and we will discontinue these payments immediately.” (Armour, 10/13)

Politico: Trump Will Scrap Critical Obamacare Subsidy
The subsidies, which are worth an estimated $7 billion this year and are paid out in monthly installments, may stop almost immediately since Congress hasn’t appropriated funding for the program. (Dawsey and Demko, 10/12)

NPR: Trump Administration To End Obamacare Subsidies For The Poor
The decision ends speculation about whether the Trump administration would continue making the monthly payments to insurers. That money particularly helps people earning between 100 percent and 250 percent of the poverty level pay for the insurance and health care they get through the exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. (Kurtzleben and Neuman, 10/12)

Reuters: Trump Nails Obamacare With Decision To Cut Off Billions In Subsidies
The decision is the most dramatic action Trump has taken yet to weaken the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, which extended insurance to 20 million Americans. The move drew swift condemnation from Democrats and threats from state attorneys general in New York and California to file lawsuits. (10/13)

The Washington Post: Trump To End Key ACA Subsidies, A Move That Will Threaten The Law’s Marketplaces
Trump has threatened for months to stop the payments, which go to insurers that are required by the law to help eligible consumers afford their deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. But he held off while other administration officials warned him such a move would cause an implosion of the ACA marketplaces that could be blamed on Republicans, according to two individuals briefed on the decision. (Goldstein and Eilperin, 10/13)

Modern Healthcare: Executive Order Seeks To Weaken ACA Insurance Rules, Another Would End Cost-Sharing Payments 
But many insurance leaders, state regulators and policy experts fear that Trump's order, depending on how it's implemented by federal agencies, could drive up premiums and make coverage less available in the regulated individual market, which helps people who need comprehensive benefits. That's because healthier customers likely would move into the cheaper, leaner plans, prompting insurers to raise rates for more comprehensive plans or exit the market entirely. (Meyer, 10/12)

The Hill: Dems Rip Trump's 'Spiteful' Decision To End Key ObamaCare Payments  
Democratic leaders blasted the administration on Thursday night over President Trump's decision to end key payments to insurers offering ObamaCare coverage, calling the move "spiteful." “Sadly, instead of working to lower health costs for Americans, it seems President Trump will singlehandedly hike Americans’ health premiums," Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a joint statement. (Byrnes, 10/12)

CQ: Trump To Stop Paying Cost-Sharing Subsidies
The move could put more pressure on Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., who are negotiating a package that would provide funding for the payments and additional flexibility for states under the law. The duo still haven't reached an agreement, and many Republicans are opposed to simply funding the subsidies, which they say would be "bailing out" insurance companies. Rep. Mark Walker, chair of the Republican Study Committee, made it clear that House conservatives are not prepared to vote for a deal. "Under no circumstance should Congress attempt to expand Obamacare by cutting a check for President Obama’s bailout of insurance companies," Walker said in a statement. (McIntire, 10/12)

The Hill: New York, California Threaten To Sue Over Health-Care Subsidies 
Attorneys general from California and New York say they are prepared to sue the Trump administration to protect health-care subsides that the White House said would be cut off. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) said in a statement that hundreds of thousands of New York families rely on ObamaCare's subsidies for their health care. (Savransky, 10/12)

Meanwhile —

The Hill: Trump Administration Hints At Enforcing ObamaCare Mandate 
The Trump administration is hinting that it will continue to enforce the ObamaCare mandate requiring Americans to have health insurance coverage. An administration document obtained by The Hill that accompanies an executive order signed by President Trump Thursday states that "only Congress can change the law" when it comes to the mandate. (Sullivan, 10/12)

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