President Donald Trump's decision to end a provision of the Affordable Care Act that was benefiting roughly 6 million Americans helps fulfill a campaign promise, but it also risks harming some of the very people who helped him win the presidency.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday, citing an administration official, that an executive order regarding association health plans would be signed this week.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Fox & Friends Friday that Trump chose to end these payments, because they agree that it's the right of Congress to appropriate this money under the constitution.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer accused Trump of "using a wrecking ball to single-handedly rip apart our healthcare system".
Of course, Trump claims that he's merely making the health-care system better.
The House of Representatives in May passed Republican legislation to gut Obamacare. If Trump thinks he can blame "Obamacare" for the damage he's doing to the system, he's misguided - because he's taking ownership of American health care right now, forcing consumers to pay more while he sabotages the system as part of a freakish political vendetta.
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The order directs the federal government to consider ways for more people to buy health insurance plans that are exempt from numerous ACA protections - such as the requirement that health plans cover "essential health benefits", including maternity and mental health care, and the prohibition against charging people different premiums based on their health status. More small businesses can now collectively purchase health care, and limits on short-term insurance plans will be rolled back as a result of the order.
Speaking to the press earlier on Thursday, Mr Trump said the White House was just "starting the process" of repealing and replacing Obamacare.
In announcing his decision, Trump argued the subsidies were payouts to insurance companies, and the government could not legally continue to make them. Especially if the Trump administration chooses not to enforce the individual mandate, or the part of the health law that requires every eligible American who doesn't get insurance through work to buy a health plan. Instead of working with Congress on a permanent and lasting adjustment to Obamacare, to bolster the law's weaknesses, the president is off on his own tweeting things like "The Democrats ObamaCare is imploding".
Joseph Antos, a healthcare expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank, said he did not believe the order would have much of an impact. The Trump administration and many Republicans say the government can not legally continue to make the so-called cost-sharing payments.
Blumberg called the change irresponsible: "Why would you make a change that, at least in some states, is going to end up leaving you where you were to begin with but costing you a lot more money?" "That's clearly not the case", Antos said.
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The subsidies are essential for many health care consumers. Trump could not repeal the ACA; thus, he will try to destroy it through conscious mismanagement.
The association health plans could attract young, healthy people and leave a sicker, more expensive patient pool in the individual insurance markets created under Obamacare, driving up premiums.
The CBO agrees with the premise of the Urban Institute's report on cost sharing reductions, though the nonpartisan agency does not break out federal spending changes by state.
Hospital stocks edged lower in Thursday trading, with HCA Healthcare down 1.7 percent and Tenet Healthcare down 2.6 percent.
To make up for the loss, Obamacare insurers in Florida raised premiums by 45 percent on average for next year.
Trump has taken a number of other steps to weaken or undermine Obamacare.
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Now even more insurers are all but certain to follow suit and hike their premiums as well.