Trump administration blocks GOP governor from skirting ObamaCare

Trump administration blocks GOP governor from skirting ObamaCare
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The Trump administration on Thursday blocked Idaho's GOP governor from loosening ObamaCare rules, saying that the state appeared to be violating federal law.

The decision is politically complicated, given that it is a Republican administration blocking a Republican governor from loosening ObamaCare rules, but federal officials said they have a duty to enforce the law on the books.

"[The Affordable Care Act] remains the law and we have a duty to enforce and uphold the law," Seema Verma, the administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), wrote in a letter to Idaho Gov. Butch Otter.

Verma added in a statement that "CMS has reason to believe that Idaho would be failing to substantially enforce the provisions" of the Affordable Care Act under its proposal.

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Democrats had been pressuring the Trump administration to step in and block Idaho's move for weeks, and Health and Human Services officials had previously kept their decision on the issue under wraps.

But on Thursday, the administration stepped in to stop the plan.

Idaho's proposal would allow insurers to sell plans that charge people with pre-existing conditions more, which is barred by ObamaCare, and not cover all of the health services required under the health law.

Idaho officials argued the move was necessary to provide cheaper plans to younger, healthier people.

Verma's letter offered alternatives to the state, including embracing a Trump administration move to allow different kinds of cheaper, skimpier insurance plans, known as short-term plans.