President Donald Trump is pushing to end Affordable Care Act subsidies that help millions of Americans afford their health insurance coverage. The move would end payments to insurers, which help low-income Americans access coverage, the Washington Post reports.
Trump’s decision comes shortly after he signed an executive order to allow alternative health care plans that skirt the ACA’s requirements.
The White House on Thursday confirmed that it would halt payments for the cost-sharing reductions. No details have been given on when the payments would stop. Top officials at the Health and Human Services Department said shortly after that the payments would be cutoff immediately.
The subsidies equate to $7 billion.
The decision to end payments is grounds for insurers to back out of their contracts to sell health plans in 2018. Regulators in some states have instructed ACA insurers to add a surcharge in case the payments are not made. But in other states, insurers could be forced to give the discount without being reimbursed.
“Millions of Americans rely on these benefits to afford their coverage and care,” said Kristine Grow, a spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans.
Xavier Becerra, California Attorney General, says the stoppage of payments is “sabotage.” Becerra is prepared to challenge the White House. He says he has taken the Trump administration to court in the past and has won.
“We’re ready to do it again if necessary,” he said.
“The bailout of insurance companies through these unlawful payments is yet another example of how the previous administration abused taxpayer dollars and skirted the law to prop up a broken system,” the White House said in a statement. “Congress needs to repeal and replace the disastrous Obamacare law and provide real relief to the American people.”
The administration told the Health and Human Services Department in a filing on Friday that it ordered the “cost-sharing reduction payments be stopped because it has determined that those payments are not funded by the permanent appropriation.”