Stop! Take a deep breath. Don’t panic. The world is not about to come to an end – and the ObamaCare insurance market is not about to implode.
Yes, that’s what the liberal media and the Democratic leaders want you to believe. And some, including California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, are suiting the Trump administration, claiming he’s breaking the law. In reality, he’s upholding the law!
I’m talking about the subsidies to health insurance companies the Obama administration illegally paid without Congressional approval – and the Trump administration continued – until now. I talked about this issue in an earlier post (To Bailout ObamaCare or Not to Bailout?).
Cost Sharing Reductions
The issue is all about Cost Sharing Reductions or CSRs, which are not the same as the subsidies paid for low income Americans to purchase ObamaCare policies on the exchanges. CSRs are payments by the government to the insurers to subsidize deductibles and co-pays for lower-income individuals – those below 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level – who purchase coverage on ObamaCare’s exchanges.
Although these payments must be appropriated by Congress, the Obama administration made the payments without approval anyway. The result is a lawsuit called House of Representatives v. Price (the current HHS Secretary). This lawsuit was originally filed in 2015 against the Obama administration by the House of Representatives. In 2016, Federal Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled in favor of the House and slammed the Obama administration with an injunction to prevent further payments. However, the injunction was later stayed at Congress’ request, putting the legality and existence of CSRs in limbo.
Therefore, President Trump is simply refusing to break the law since these payments have already been ruled unconstitutional without Congressional approval.
The CSRs have continued under Trump until now because he expected the Republican-led Congress to pass healthcare reform. But since that didn’t happen, he is terminating these illegal payments – and calling on Congress to pass new legislation to fix this problem.
The Democrats in Congress are demagoguing the issue, calling this “sabotage” of ObamaCare, conspiracy to harm the poor, sending a wrecking ball into the American healthcare system, and (as usual) killing people.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted premiums would increase if the subsidies ended. This is to be expected. However, the WSJ editors say, “ The CBO also noted that the added expense would be covered by subsidies for individuals that increase with premiums. The market would continue to be stable (my emphasis) by CBO’s report, and the change won’t invite the ObamaCare death spiral that Democrats would love to pin on Republicans. More generous individual subsidies mean the insurers now predicting Armageddon will still get paid.”
The solution is simple – Congress must appropriate the money in the usual way. But this will require Democrats and Republicans to agree on something. President Trump is putting the ball in their court and forcing them to work together. Senator Chuck Schumer has been saying for months he was willing to work with Republicans once repeal was off the table. Now it’s time to put up or shut up, Chuck.