Trump to halt pay­ments to health in­sur­ers

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - MORNING BRIEFING - By Ri­cardo Alonso-zaldivar The As­so­ci­ated Press

WASH­ING­TON — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump plans to halt pay­ments to in­sur­ers un­der the Obama-era health care law he has been try­ing to un­ravel for months.

Two peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the de­ci­sion de­scribed the plan late Thurs­day night, seek­ing anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly.

The White House said in a state­ment that 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.

The top two Democrats in Con­gress sharply de­nounced the Trump plan in a joint state­ment.

The pres­i­dent’s ac­tion is likely to trig­ger a law­suit from state at­tor­neys gen­eral, who con­tend the sub­si­dies to in­sur­ers are fully au­tho­rized by fed­eral law, and say the pres­i­dent’s po­si­tion is reck­less.

Word of Trump’s plan came on a day when the pres­i­dent had also signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der di­rect­ing govern­ment agen­cies to de­sign in­sur­ance plans that would of­fer lower pre­mi­ums out­side the re­quire­ments of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s Af­ford­able Care Act.

Ear­lier Thurs­day, Trump had di­rected govern­ment agen­cies to de­sign a le­gal frame­work for groups of em­ploy­ers to band to­gether and of­fer health in­sur­ance plans across state lines, a long­stand­ing goal for the pres­i­dent.

Democrats de­nounced Trump’s or­der as more “sab­o­tage,” while Repub­li­cans called it “bold ac­tion” to help con­sumers. A ma­jor small-busi­ness group praised the pres­i­dent, while doc­tors, in­sur­ers and state reg­u­la­tors said they have con­cerns and are wait­ing on de­tails.

But Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY., called Trump’s ac­tion “one of the most sig­nif­i­cant free mar­ket health care re­forms in a gen­er­a­tion” that would “re­duce govern­ment in­ter­fer­ence and pro­vide more af­ford­able health care op­tions to ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans.”

Evan Vucci

The As­so­ci­ated Press Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump shows an ex­ec­u­tive or­der on health care that he signed Thurs­day in the Roo­sevelt Room of the White House.

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