After the Trump administration announced late Thursday night that it would end key Obamacare subsidies, a few Republican lawmakers spoke out against the move, warning that eliminating those subsidies could raise premiums and cost constituents their health coverage.
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), a moderate Republican who is retiring at the end of his term, said on CNN that President Donald Trump’s move was “ill-advised.”
“I am fearful now that the President made this announcement that will destabilize the insurance markets, it will raise premiums for a lot of folks,” Dent said Friday morning on CNN, adding that it could also cause some Americans to lose their health insurance and prompt insurers to leave the Obamacare marketplace.
Dent argued that the Republican Party “will own this,” and said that the administration’s move will force Congress to act quickly to pass legislation in order to make cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments.
“President Trump is the President. He is a Republican. And we control the Congress. We own the system now. So we are going to have to figure out a way to stabilize this situation,” Dent told CNN. “Barack Obama is no longer in the equation. So this is on us. And so I believe his action will force us to enter into some kind of bipartisan agreement on the cost-sharing reduction payments.”
“We have to send the bill to the President,” he added later. “Whether or not he signs it, I don’t know. I hope he would. Maybe that’s what he wants us to do. Maybe he is forcing us to take some action.”
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), another Republican retiring at the end of her term, also warned that Trump’s decision to cut off CSR payments could hurt her constituents.
Cutting health care subsidies will mean more uninsured in my district. @potus promised more access, affordable coverage. This does opposite.
— Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (@RosLehtinen) October 13, 2017
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who opposed all of the Obamacare repeal plans proposed by Republicans, said Friday morning in a speech that she was “concerned” by the administration’s decision to end CSR payments, as well as by Thursday’s executive order.
Republican Nevada Gov Brian Sandoval also warned Friday that cutting off the payments will be “devastating” in his state.
“It’s going to hurt people. It’s going to hurt kids. It’s going to hurt families. It’s going to hurt individuals. It’s going to hurt people with mental health issues. It’s going to hurt veterans. It’s going to hurt everybody,” he told the Nevada Independent, referring to the CSR payments. “And so this is something that I’ve been very supportive during my administration in terms of expanding health care and making sure that people have access to affordable health care and I’m going to continue on that path.”
The Trump administration has repeatedly threatened to cut off these crucial payments for insurers who cover low-income Americans with significant health care needs. Over the summer, as the administration was weighing whether to make its August payment, several Republicans urged Trump to continue the subsidies, including Sen. John Thune (R-SD), a member of the Republican leadership team, and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the Republican leading bipartisan talks on legislation to make the CSR payments.
After the announcement, Trump on Friday morning urged Democrats to work with him on a legislative fix to Obamacare, but it’s not entirely clear what the administration would agree to.
Office of Management and Budget chief Mick Mulvaney on Friday told Politico that he is “pretty sure” the administration would not support “a clean Murray-Alexander bill.”
“The president has said pretty clearly that he’s willing to talk to just about anybody about repealing and replacing [Obamacare],” Mulvaney added, per Politico. “But if the straight-up question is: Is the president interested in continuing what he sees as corporate welfare and bailouts for the insurance companies? No.”