Be­cerra hits Trump tac­tics

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Me­lanie Ma­son me­lanie.ma­son@la­times.com

Cal­i­for­nia of­fi­cial ac­cuses the pres­i­dent of Oba­macare “sab­o­tage.”

SACRA­MENTO — Cal­i­for­nia Atty. Gen. Xavier Be­cerra, newly em­pow­ered to de­fend Af­ford­able Care Act sub­si­dies in court, ac­cused Pres­i­dent Trump on Wed­nes­day of “ex­tor­tion­ist tac­tics” by threat­en­ing to un­der­mine the health­care law.

At a news con­fer­ence, Be­cerra cel­e­brated Tues­day’s de­ci­sion by a U.S. ap­peals court to al­low states to join the le­gal bat­tle to de­fend cost-shar­ing sub­si­dies, in which the fed­eral gov­ern­ment pays in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to com­pen­sate for cheaper, out-of-pocket costs for low-in­come cus­tomers. Trump has de­nounced the pay­ments as “bailouts” for in­sur­ance com­pa­nies.

Be­cerra said un­cer­tainty over the fu­ture of those sub­si­dies had led to a 12.5% jump in pro­jected premi­ums next year for plans on the Cov­ered Cal­i­for­nia in­sur­ance ex­change.

“It shouldn’t sur­prise any­one that the Trump-gen­er­ated in­sta­bil­ity, un­pre­dictabil­ity has made it dif­fi­cult for in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to de­ter­mine what their rates will be for next year,” Be­cerra said. “It shouldn’t sur­prise any­one that they’re hedg­ing for charg­ing more for next year’s in­sur­ance plan than this year — just in case.”

“That’s the clas­sic def­i­ni­tion of sab­o­tage,” he added.

Be­cerra, along with New York Atty. Gen. Eric Sch­nei­der­man and 16 other at­tor­neys gen­eral, sought to in­ter­vene in the law­suit re­gard­ing the sub­si­dies in May. House Re­pub­li­cans chal­lenged the pay­ments in 2014 un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion; with the case now on ap­peal, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion in­her­ited the role of de­fend­ing the sub­si­dies, but it was un­clear if it would con­tinue the fight to pro­tect them.

Now, with states able to join the case, Be­cerra said, “We’re ready to go. My team is ready to de­fend th­ese sub­si­dies in court.”

The U.S. Se­nate, mean­while, is ex­plor­ing a bi­par­ti­san mea­sure to sta­bi­lize the in­sur­ance mar­ket. Be­cerra urged his for­mer col­leagues on the Hill to con­tinue work­ing on such ef­forts.

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