The new reduction of help for navigators, announced late Tuesday afternoon by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, fits within a pattern of moves by the administration to weaken the sweeping health-care law that President Trump has vowed to demolish.
Over the weekend arrived some fresh political fury that the Trump Administration is trying to sabotage ObamaCare by suspending something called "risk adjustment" payments. "CMS has asked the court to reconsider its ruling, and hopes for a prompt resolution that allows CMS to prevent more adverse impacts on Americans who receive their insurance in the individual and small group markets", CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a July 7 statement.
The funds were expected to go out this fall, the Journal reports. "New Yorkers aren't fooled". The permanent program was meant to reduce the incentive for health insurers to cherry-pick healthy members.
"Any action to stop disbursements under the risk adjustment program will significantly increase 2019 premiums for millions of individuals and small-business owners, and could result in far fewer health plan choices", said Justine G. Handelman, a senior vice president of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. "It will create more market uncertainty and increase premiums for many health plans - putting a heavier burden on small businesses and consumers, and reducing coverage options". "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. "It moves us back to some extent to the status quo where people with pre-existing conditions found it very hard to get insurance". Unlike with other ObamaCare subsidy programs, risk adjustment payments shuffle money from insurers with relatively healthy populations to others.
"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.
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The news comes on the heels of many predicting better days for insurers in the ACA markets.
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Republicans made this argument once before, claiming that the individual mandate for consumers to buy health insurance is unconstitutional. Insurers were entering or returning to at least a dozen states for 2019 enrollment, while others were expanding their presence in the states in which they operate.
The Trump administration has suspended more than $10 billion in Obamacare payments to insurance companies that lost money on state insurance exchanges. These alternative plans don't have to provide all of the Affordable Care Act's consumer protections.