More than a dozen states have sought to defend in court crucial Obamacare subsidies that President Trump has threatened to halt and are the target in a House Republican lawsuit dating back to the Obama administration.
The 15 states, joined by the District of Columbia, filed a motion Thursday in the lawsuit pending against the subsidies, known as cost-sharing reduction payments, seeking to intervene in the case, which has currently been paused. The Obama administration had been defending the subsidies, and had appealed a district judge’s ruling from last May against the subsidies, which were allowed to continue during the appeal.
However, after Trump was elected, Republicans were able to pause the proceeding so the House GOP and new administration could figure out their next steps, and next week the two parties are set to update the court on their progress. The states, in their motions, asked the court to lift the hold on the case and let the states intervene so the subsidies will continue to be defended. The subsidies go to insurers to keep out-of-pocket costs down for low income consumers, which is mandated by the Affordable Care Act.
If the lower court ruling was left to stand and the payments were halted, it’s expected to cause chaos in the individual market. Premiums are estimated to go up by 19 percent, and some insurers may just pull out together. Already there are signs of premium hikes for the 2018 plan year due to the uncertainty around the payments.
The states move to intervene in the case comes as President Trump reportedly told his aides this week he favors ending the payments because he believes it would make Democrats more likely to negotiate with him on repealing the Affordable Care Act.
Before Trump was inaugurated, a pair of individual Obamacare enrollees sought to intervene in the case to defend the subsidies, but were unsuccessful.