The top Democrats on the congressional committees with jurisdiction over health care are requesting more information about an alleged offer a top Trump administration official in the Health and Human Services Department reportedly made to insurers for their support of the House GOP Obamacare repeal bill.
A spokeswoman for Seema Verma, the Trump-appointed administrator of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, has pushed back hard against a Los Angeles Times report last week that alleged she floated to insurers funding for key Obamacare subsidies as a bargaining chip, with a statement to TPM last week that said the report was “completely false.”
“The assertion that Administrator Verma offered to fund the CSR in exchange for support for legislation is preposterous,” Jane Norris, the CMS Communications Director, said.
But Democrats are digging in, sending Verma a letter requesting “documents and communications” pertaining to the alleged offer, as well as information on any other CMS officials who suggested such a deal, any vetting that was done of such an offer, and other kinds of deals floated to insurers in exchange for their support of the House bill.
“Your reported actions suggest you are using the operation of the American healthcare system as a tool to gain leverage in political negotiations,” the letter said.
It was signed by Senate Finance ranking member Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senate HELP ranking member Patty Murray (D-WA), House Ways and Means ranking member Richard Neal (D-MA) and House Energy and Commerce ranking member Frank Pallone (D-NJ).
The fate of the subsidies, known as cost sharing reduction payments, remains in flux. They are the target of a House GOP lawsuit dating from the Obama administration, and President Trump himself has suggested he’d end the payments. The payments subsidize insurers for keeping out of pocket costs down for low income consumers. If they are halted, its anticipated that insurers will jack up premiums or exit the marketplaces altogether.
Read the full Democratic letter below: