Dems rip Trump's 'spiteful' decision to end key ObamaCare payments

Dems rip Trump's 'spiteful' decision to end key ObamaCare payments
© Greg Nash

Democratic leaders blasted the administration on Thursday night over President Trump's decision to end subsidy payments to insurers offering ObamaCare coverage, calling the move "spiteful."

“Sadly, instead of working to lower health costs for Americans, it seems President Trump will singlehandedly hike Americans’ health premiums," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance | Puerto Rico's water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Crying on TV doesn't qualify Kimmel to set nation's gun agenda Trump knocks ‘fake’ news coverage of his trip to Puerto Rico MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a joint statement.

"It is a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America. Make no mistake about it, Trump will try to blame the Affordable Care Act, but this will fall on his back and he will pay the price for it," they continued.

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The White House announced Thursday night that the administration would no longer make the disbursements, known as cost-sharing reduction payments. The administration argued in a statement that it "cannot lawfully" make the payments.

"Based on guidance from the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services has concluded that there is no appropriation for cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies under Obamacare," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

Trump had repeatedly threatened to cut off the payments, which help low-income people afford co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs associated with health-insurance policies. Insurers have warned of massive premium hikes or an exit from the individual market with the payments.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said in August that insurance companies would raise premium prices by about 20 percent for ObamaCare plans if the payments were cut off, saying that around 1 million people would be uninsured in 2018.

The CBO also said that cutting off the payments would raise the federal deficit by $194 billion through 2026.

“President Trump has apparently decided to punish the American people for his inability to improve our health care system. Trumpcare collapsed because Americans overwhelmingly recognized the cruelty and higher costs it meant for them and their loved ones. Now, millions of hard-working American families will suffer just because President Trump wants them to," Schumer and Pelosi said.