Insurance Commissioners Ask Congress To Fund O’Care Subsidies Trump Might End

Jon Elswick

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners asked Congress in a letter Wednesday to fund the Affordable Care Act subsidies that President Trump has threatened to end in his efforts to pass an Obamacare repeal bill.

“On behalf of the nation’s state insurance commissioners, the primary regulators of U.S. insurance markets, we write today to urge Congress to fully fund the cost-sharing reduction payments for FY2017 in the upcoming continuing resolution, and to commit to fully funding the program for FY2018,” the letter, sent to congressional leaders of both parties, said. “Your action is critical to the viability and stability of the individual health insurance markets in a significant number of states across the country.”

The payments subsidize insurers for keeping out-of-pocket costs down for low-income consumers, as mandated by the ACA. They are the target of a lawsuit launched by House Republicans in 2014 against the Obama administration, and if ended, could send the individual insurance market into chaos as insurers hike up premiums to make up the shortfall or pullout of the exchanges entirely.

A federal judge sided with the House Republicans but allowed the payments to continue while the federal government appealed the decision. The Trump administration hasn’t said whether it will continue to defend the payments — the case has been paused until May for both parties to figure out their next moves — while Trump himself has floated ending the payments as a form of hardball to get Democrats to the table on dismantling Obamacare.

Congressional Democrats have since signaled that they will lobby for funding for the payments as they negotiate a government spending bill to avert a shutdown next month.

Read the full letter below: