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Trump Administration Will End Obamacare Subsidies For The Poor
October 13, 2017

President Donald Trump at the White House Thursday during signing event. Trump signed an executive order to "promote health care choice and competition." Photo: White House
Chronicle staff

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- Low income and poor people tend not have any high priced lobbying firms in Washington watching out for their interests, doing high-tab lunches with lawmakers at DC's finest restaurants and making regular campaign donations on their behalf.

That's too bad because if they did have that type of firepower along The Beltway running point and mowing down unfriendlies as they appear, at least one of yesterday's announcements from the Trump administration might not have been forthcoming.

Late Thursday the Trump administration said it would end the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing reduction payments - meaning billions of dollars to insurers - which are designed to help low-income Americans get health care.

The payments are one of the corner stones of Obamacare and are critical to the program's survival.

The White House said Thursday it cannot lawfully pay the subsidies to health insurance companies, based on guidance from the Justice Department. President Trump has threatened in the past to cut the payments off.

The President's plan to cut the payments was disclosed hours after Mr. Trump ordered what will be other big changes in the nation’s health insurance system, including allowing the sale of cheaper health policies with fewer benefits, not to mention fewer protections for consumers.

The New York Time said those twin hits to the Affordable Care Act, "Could unravel President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement, sending insurance premiums soaring and insurance companies fleeing from the health law’s online marketplaces. After Republicans failed to repeal the health law in Congress, Mr. Trump appears determined to dismantle it on his own."

That report also noted that many patients, doctors, hospital executives and state insurance regulators were not happy with the announcement by the President. "They said the changes envisioned by Mr. Trump could raise costs for sick people, increase sales of bare-bones insurance and add uncertainty to wobbly health insurance markets," according to the report. "Chris Hansen, the president of the lobbying arm of the American Cancer Society, said the order “could leave millions of cancer patients and survivors unable to access meaningful coverage.”

Democratic leaders were predictably angry. In a joint statement, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called the move "a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage."

"Sadly, instead of working to lower health costs for Americans, it seems President Trump will singlehandedly hike Americans' health premiums," said the statement. "Make no mistake about it, Trump will try to blame the Affordable Care Act, but this will fall on his back and he will pay the price for it."

What might happen without those subsidies, besides poor people being back to where they were before Obamacare -- between a rock and a hard place?

Some health insurers have warned the move will cause chaos in the insurance markets and an increase in the cost of monthly insurance premiums for many Americans -- and some states attorneys general are planning to sue the Trump administration to stop the move.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman released a statement saying he was prepared to lead other attorneys general in a lawsuit.

“I will not allow President Trump to once again use New York families as political pawns in his dangerous, partisan campaign to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act at any cost,” said the statement. “This summer, the courts granted our intervention to defend these vital subsidies and the quality, affordable health care they ensure for millions of families across the country. Our coalition of states stands ready to sue if President Trump cuts them off.”



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