Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Trump Suspends Obamacare Payments To Insurers

Trump Suspends Obamacare Payments To Insurers

Billions of dollars in payments to health insurers under the Obamacare health care law were stopped Saturday by the Trump administration.

She noted it is the latest action by the administration of President Donald J. Trump, which has weakened the landmark law that expanded healthcare for many more Americans.

About 20 million Americans have received health insurance coverage through the program.

"We are extremely disappointed that the administration has frozen payment transfers under the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) risk adjustment program, which is created to keep costs down for consumers while meeting the medical needs of those requiring significant care", President and CEO Scott Serota said in a statement.

The decision comes after a March 2018 court ruling that found the formula for calculating risk adjustment payments was "arbitrary and capricious".

The U.S. agency that administers Obamacare is freezing payments to insurers that cover sicker patients, saying a federal court ruling ties its hands. The CMS has appealed the decision, particularly because a MA court upheld such payments. "And costs for taxpayers will rise as the federal government spends more on premium subsidies", AHIP said in a statement. "The executive order the president signed, not long after he got to the White House after the [Inaugural] Parade was effectively, 'We're declaring war on the Affordable Care Act.'" Whitlock says, the goal has been to make the marketplace as inhospitable as possible for participating plans, and this is just one more step in that direction.

The Trump administration has halted billions of dollars of Obamacare payments to insurers due to a court ruling.

Risk adjustment "has been long supported and embraced by both Republicans and Democrats", said Scott Serota, president of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.

Still, insurers are grappling with changes that the Trump administration and Congress have made to Obamacare for 2019. Payments for 2017 are $10.4 billion. The insurers have requested average rate increases for 2019 that range from 18.5 percent to 91.4 percent, depending on the type of plan.

"People spin the administration's decision as Trump trying to do harm, but it's exactly the opposite", he added. They claim its reimbursement formula is flawed and CMS has ignored it for years, resulting in the failure of many small health plans.

"We urge the Trump administration to back off of this risky and destabilizing plan, and instead begin working on bipartisan solutions to make coverage more affordable", said Brad Woodhouse, the executive director of Protect Our Care, a progressive group that supports Obamacare. Small insurers often complain about risk adjustment payments because they end up paying their larger competitors, who tend to have the sickest patients.

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