Trump administration freezes Obamacare payments, citing court decision

Trump administration says it’s freezing payments under an ‘Obamacare’ program that protects insurers with

Trump administration freezes Obamacare payments, citing court decision

The Trump administration announced on Saturday another potential blow to the Affordable Care Act - the freezing of risk-adjustment payments that help stabilize insurance pools in the marketplace.

"We were disappointed by the court's recent ruling", CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in the agency's statement. The CMS has appealed the decision, particularly because a MA court upheld such payments.

The move is expected to add to premium increases next year.

In February, U.S. District Judge James Browning in Albuquerque, N.M., ruled that the formula used by CMS to calculate payments in the risk-adjustment program was flawed and had not been adequately justified by federal regulators.

Dr. Dave Weldon, president of the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, discusses why the health care sharing ministry group, known as Samaritan Ministries, could be a good alternative for people who can't find affordable healthcare. "In light of this analysis, the Government can not lawfully make the cost-sharing reduction payments", the White House said after ending the payments in October 2017. To do that, the government collects money from health insurers with enrollees who were healthier and as a result "cost less to insure".

Trump tweeted dozens and dozens of times about Obamacare and its demise previous year as he pushed the Senate to repeal the law.

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The administration argued in its announcement that its hands were tied by conflicting court rulings in New Mexico and MA.

The administration "has asked the court to reconsider its ruling, and hopes for a prompt resolution that allows (the government) to prevent more adverse impacts on Americans who receive their insurance in the individual and small group markets", she said.

Insurance companies responded quickly on Saturday with their disapproval. These include eliminating the individual mandate penalty and broadening the availability of two alternatives to Affordable Care Act policies. The move is just the newest in a series of attempts by Trump's administration to disrupt the insurance markets that the Affordable Care Act depends on to function. 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.

America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the trade organization representing health insurers, decried the suspension of the payments. Eventually, experts say, some insurers could simply get fed up and exit ObamaCare markets, leading to fewer choices for consumers.

If an insurer does not have the financial cushion to deal with losing the payments, "some insurers may say this is not a risk that we're willing to take and walk away", he said.

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