Trump Defends Cutting Subsidies For Low-Income Obamacare Recipients

President Donald Trump waves to members of the media before boarding Marine One helicopter on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and then onto Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

President Donald Trump on Friday justified his refusal to pay Obamacare’s cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs) by saying the payments had only served to prop up the stock prices of insurance companies.

Until Thursday night, CSRs were regular subsidies to insurance companies, authorized by the executive branch, in order to lessen the cost of health care for low-income people — those earning between 100 and 250 percent of the federal poverty line — buying insurance on Obamacare’s exchanges.

In short: The government paid insurance companies to provide cheaper plans to low-income people.

“If you take a look at CSR payments, that money is going to insurance companies to prop up insurance companies,” Trump told reporters on his way to Marine One.

A reporter responded that the payments were meant to help low-income people afford insurance.

“That money is going to insurance companies to lift up their stock price,” Trump said. “And that’s not what I’m about.”

“Take a look at who those insurance companies support and I guarantee you one thing, it’s not Donald Trump,” he added.

Trump’s past threats to cut off CSR payments sent insurance markets into turmoil. And his move Thursday night — in addition to an executive order that made it easier for individuals to buy insurance plans that do not comply with Obamacare — was widely seen as an attempt to sabotage Obamacare and force Congress to legislate an alternative.

Without the subsidies, health care markets could become radically destabilized. The Congressional Budget Office projected in August that cutting off CSRs would increase the federal deficit nearly $200 billion between 2017 and 2026, and that individuals whose care depended on the payments could see 20 percent higher premiums by 2018, and 25 percent higher premiums by 2020.

Watch below via MSNBC:

This post has been updated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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