The Great Unraveling

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We were getting hints of this late this afternoon and now Politico, first, then the Washington Post are reporting, citing anonymous sources, that President Trump will end Obamacare’s cost-sharing reduction payments. This move, in combination with the executive order Trump signed earlier in the day, threatens to begin the unraveling of the Obamacare marketplaces.

CBO projects cutting off the payments will make premiums 20 percent higher by 2018 and 25 percent higher by 2020, while raising the budget deficit by nearly $200 billion by 2026.

What the GOP Congress could not do – repeal Obamacare – Trump is attempting, ham-handedly, with no replacement plan of any kind even contemplated. Just break it and let Congress, maybe, sort it out.

Late update: The White House press secretary just put out a statement confirming the CSRs will end:

Based on guidance from the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services has concluded that there is no appropriation for cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies under Obamacare.  In light of this analysis, the Government cannot lawfully make the cost-sharing reduction payments.  The United States House of Representatives sued the previous administration in Federal court for making these payments without such an appropriation, and the court agreed that the payments were not lawful.  The bailout of insurance companies through these unlawful payments is yet another example of how the previous administration abused taxpayer dollars and skirted the law to prop up a broken system.  Congress needs to repeal and replace the disastrous Obamacare law and provide real relief to the American people.

 

Later update: Schumer and Pelosi issued a joint statement responding to the news:

“Sadly, instead of working to lower health costs for Americans, it seems President Trump will singlehandedly hike Americans’ health premiums. It is a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America. Make no mistake about it, Trump will try to blame the Affordable Care Act, but this will fall on his back and he will pay the price for it.

“President Trump has apparently decided to punish the American people for his inability to improve our health care system. Trumpcare collapsed because Americans overwhelmingly recognized the cruelty and higher costs it meant for them and their loved ones.  Now, millions of hard-working American families will suffer just because President Trump wants them to.

“If these reports are true, the President is walking away from the good faith, bipartisan Alexander-Murray negotiations and risking the health care of millions of Americans.”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.
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