White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said Tuesday that President Donald Trump had not decided whether he would continue to pay subsidies to health insurance companies in order to partially cover the costs of care for low-income patients on the individual insurance marketplace.
The payments to insurance companies, which subsidize care for 7 million people making 100-250 percent of the federal poverty line, are a political hot potato for Republicans. Congress did not include the payments in its budget agreement, opting instead to continue to trust the executive branch to make them.
The payments have continued even while the authority of the executive branch to make them is tied up in a court battle. Trump’s Justice Department has not said whether it will continue to defend that authority.
“We have not made any decision, I think I’ve said that to you folks before,” Mulvaney told an inquiring reporter at a press conference Tuesday. “We’ve not made any decision. The payments are due I believe the 20th or 21st of every single month. We have not made any decisions at all on May.”
In April, Trump threatened to hold the payments hostage as a bargaining chip, telling the Wall Street Journal on April 12: “I haven’t made my viewpoint clear yet. I don’t want people to get hurt….What I think should happen and will happen is the Democrats will start calling me and negotiating.”