New York AG: Trump Is ‘Reckless And Cruel’ To Halt Obamacare Payments

Mary Altaffer/AP
Views

NEW YORK—New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) announced Friday that he is teaming up with his Democratic counterparts in some dozen states to sue to block President Donald Trump’s “reckless and cruel” move to end crucial subsidies that the Affordable Care Act provides to insurers.

“People will suffer and people will die” if the Trump administration’s “unlawful” decision stands, Schneiderman warned in a press conference at his downtown Manhattan office.

The New York Democrat is joining a federal lawsuit that will be filed in the Northern District of California Friday arguing that the government is legally required under the Affordable Care Act to continue to make the payments, known as cost-sharing reductions, that allow insurers to keep out-of-pocket costs down for low-income individuals.

Roughly 730,000 New York residents receive some $900 million in cost-sharing reduction payments, according to Schneiderman’s office.

The Trump administration’s announcement late Thursday that it will halt the subsidies threatens to throw the individual insurance market into turmoil. The state attorneys general are seeking a temporary restraining order that would require the government to continue making these payments going forward, including the next one due Oct. 18.

As Schneiderman pointed out, the Washington, D.C. district court judge overseeing a separate, related lawsuit—House vs. Price—acknowledged that the loss of these payments would directly lead to an increase in premiums and in the number of insured individuals nationwide. He and other state attorneys general were permitted to intervene in that case this summer in what Schneiderman said was a recognition on that judge’s part that she “could no longer rely on the Trump administration to provide proper defense for the Affordable Care Act.” That case has been on pause as the new administration and the House GOP decided on a new way forward.

Though Trump hasn’t been shy about his desire to watch Obamacare “implode,” Schneiderman said the president’s willingness to take such significant steps to undermine the law “with no warning or even a plan to contain the fallout is breathtakingly reckless.”

Massachusetts, Connecticut and Kentucky are among the states joining New York and California in the lawsuit.

These states all have Democratic attorneys general, but a number of Republican lawmakers on Friday expressed grave concern about what will happen to residents in their states when these payments are gone—something that could happen as early as next week.

Update: The lawsuit the attorneys general are bringing has been filed in the U.S. District Court of California for the Northern District. It alleges that Trump is in violation of the Affordable Care Act, Administrative Procedure Act and the Constitution’s Take Care clause. Nineteen states are on the lawsuit. Read the lawsuit below:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK