President Donald Trump announced on Saturday that if Congress doesn’t act soon on health care, he could end federal “BAILOUTS” for insurance companies, which could effectively force Congress to act or else put health insurance companies in the difficult position of having to raise rates on people who can’t afford to pay them or to leave Obamacare exchanges entirely.
"After seven years of 'talking' Repeal & Replace, the people of our great country are still being forced to live with imploding ObamaCare!" Trump wrote on Twitter.
"If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!" Trump continued.
The “BAILOUTS” to insurance companies Trump referred to in his tweet are “cost sharing reduction” payments, which help health insurance companies keep premiums, deductibles and copays lower than they might otherwise be for lower-income Americans.
If Trump were to withhold these funds from health insurance companies, it would likely result in many insurers choosing to leave the Obamacare health insurance exchanges or pass on insurance costs to lower-income people, who likely can’t afford to pay the added costs.
If health insurance companies choose to leave the insurance exchanges, which is the most likely response, it could catalyze the collapse of the Obamacare exchange system, making it more difficult for members of Congress to wait on implementing a repeal and replace bill.
In June, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services updated its county-level projections for Obamacare exchanges in 2018, and it found 1,300 counties, more than 40 percent of all counties, are expected to have only one Obamacare health insurance provider available to consumers, according to a report by CNBC. That means 2.4 million people will be forced to buy health insurance from their one and only option or else pay the Obamacare penalty imposed on those Americans who don’t have qualifying health insurance.
CMS also predicts there will be 49 counties in which consumers will have absolutely no health insurance options on their Obamacare exchange.
"I am deeply concerned about the crisis situation facing the individual market in many states across the nation," Seema Verma, CMS administrator, said in the report.
In reaction to Trump’s threat, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Trump is “playing politics with people’s lives.”
"If the president refuses to make the cost sharing reduction payments, every expert agrees that premiums will go up and health care will be more expensive for millions of Americans," Schumer said.
"The president ought to stop playing politics with people's lives and health care, start leading, and finally begin acting presidential," Schumer added.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) July 29, 2017