Becerra hits Trump tactics
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.