Trump threat­en­ing pay­ments to in­sur­ers

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Dar­lene Su­perville

WASH­ING­TON» Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Satur­day threat­ened once more to end re­quired pay­ments to in­sur­ance com­pa­nies un­less law­mak­ers re­peal and re­place the Oba­maera health care law.

In ap­par­ent frus­tra­tion over Fri­day’s fail­ure by the Se­nate Repub­li­can ma­jor­ity to pass a bill re­peal­ing parts of the Af­ford­able Care Act, Trump tweeted: “If a new Health­care Bill is not ap­proved quickly, BAILOUTS for In­sur­ance Com­pa­nies and BAILOUTS for Mem­bers of Congress will end very soon!”

No Democrats voted for the GOP bill.

Re­peal-and-re­place has been a guid­ing star for Repub­li­cans ever since Pres­i­dent Barack Obama en­acted the law in 2010. That goal, which Trump turned into a top cam­paign prom­ise, re­mains out of reach even with Repub­li­cans con­trol­ling both the White House and Congress. The is­sue has dom­i­nated the open­ing months of Trump’s pres­i­dency.

But Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch Mccon­nell, R-KY., said af­ter the bill failed early Fri­day that he would move to other leg­isla­tive busi­ness in the up­com­ing week.

Trump also tweeted: “Un­less the Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors are to­tal quit­ters, Re­peal & Re­place is not dead! De­mand an­other vote be­fore vot­ing on any other bill!”

The sub­si­dies, to­tal­ing about $7 bil­lion a year, help re­duce de­ductibles and co­pay­ments for con­sumers with mod­est in­comes.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion used its rule-mak­ing author­ity to set di­rect pay­ments to in­sur­ers to help off­set these costs. Trump in­her­ited the pay­ment struc­ture, but he also has the power to end them.

The pay­ments are the sub­ject of a law­suit brought by House Repub­li­cans over whether the Af­ford­able Care Act specif­i­cally in­cluded a con­gres­sional ap­pro­pri­a­tion for the money, as re­quired un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion. Trump has only guar­an­teed the pay­ments through July, which ends Mon­day.

Trump pre­vi­ously said the law that he and oth­ers call “Oba­macare” would col­lapse im­me­di­ately when­ever those pay­ments stop.

He has in­di­cated a de­sire to halt the sub­si­dies but so far has al­lowed them to con­tinue on a month-to-month ba­sis.

With­out the pay­ments, an­a­lysts have said, more in­sur­ers might drop out of the sys­tem, lim­it­ing op­tions for con­sumers and clear­ing the way for the in­sur­ers who stay to charge more for cov­er­age.

The Se­nate’s Demo­cratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, cau­tioned such a step, say­ing it would make health care more ex­pen­sive.

“If the pres­i­dent re­fuses to make the cost shar­ing re­duc­tion pay­ments, ev­ery ex­pert agrees that pre­mi­ums will go up and health care will be more ex­pen­sive for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans,” Schumer said Satur­day in a writ­ten state­ment.

“The pres­i­dent ought to stop play­ing pol­i­tics with peo­ple’s lives and health care, start lead­ing and fi­nally be­gin act­ing pres­i­den­tial.”

J. Scott Ap­ple­white, The As­so­ci­ated Press

Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch Mccon­nell, R-KY., said the Se­nate would move on to other leg­isla­tive busi­ness af­ter the bill to re­place the Obama-era health care law failed early Fri­day, but Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump threat­ened Satur­day to stop pay­ments to in­sur­ance com­pa­nies if the bill is not passed.

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