Trump Pulls Back on Threat to Kill Obamacare Subsidies – for Now

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He may have created enough uncertainty about the continuation of cost-sharing reduction subsidies to help cause the “implosion” of Obamacare anyway. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

To anxious insurers trying to decide whether to continue participation in the Obamacare exchanges for 2018 (assuming they still exist!), it is very much a glass-half-empty solution. But the reported request by the Trump administration and House Republicans for a 90-day delay of a D.C. Court of Appeals’ deadline for deciding whether the Obama administration’s appeal of a decision that would have ended CSR (cost-sharing reduction) subsidies would continue is better than the abrupt termination of subsidies the president would prefer. The Washington Examiner has the story:

“We feel payments should continue while we figure out a solution,” a GOP source said. “The Justice Department is working with House Republicans in good faith to achieve this.”
The CSRs, officially transfers to insurance companies who provide lower-cost health insurance plans on Affordable Care Act exchanges, have been under legal challenge by House Republicans who believed that former President Barack Obama didn’t have the legal authority to pay them.
Trump has indicated a desire to halt the subsidies.

To put it bluntly, ending the subsidies would make Trump’s prophecy of an Obamacare “implosion” self-fulfilling.

That won’t happen for at least another 90 days. But that’s a problem, too, since insurers have to notify the feds of their 2018 Obamacare rates by next month. So the extended uncertainty over the CSR subsidies — the absence of which could terminate coverage for an estimated 7 million low-income people — will continue to hang over the insurers, aggravated by the knowledge Donald Trump personally wants to kill them.

Since the policy implications and the consequences involved in this decision have been clear for a long time, you have to figure the “delay” is a thinly veiled effort to mess with Obamacare without admitting it.

Trump Pulls Back on Threat to Kill Obamacare Subsidies