Insurers push back against Trump's cuts to ObamaCare subsidies

Insurers push back against Trump's cuts to ObamaCare subsidies
© Greg Nash

Health care consumers will suffer from President Trump's decision to cut off ObamaCare's cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies, two of the largest insurance trade groups said in a statement Friday.

“This action will make it harder for patients to access the care they need. Costs will go up and choices will be restricted,” the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans said in a joint statement.

“These benefits help real people every day, and if they are ended, there will be real consequences,” the statement continued.

The CSRs help low-income people afford co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs associated with health insurance policies.

The administration late Thursday said it would stop providing insurers with the CSR payments required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as Trump has long threatened to do. Administration officials said the payments were unconstitutional bailouts of the insurance industry.

In their statement, the groups pushed back on that notion.

“These payments are not a bailout — they are passed from the federal government through health plans to medical providers to help lower costs for patients who see a doctor to treat their cancer or fill a prescription for a life-saving medication,” they said.

The payments are worth an estimated $7 billion this year.

Democrats warn that ending the payments could destabilize the healthcare market and lead to sharply rising costs.

Frustrated by Congress's failure to repeal and replace ObamaCare, Trump this week moved to hit the law with executive action. The announcement on CSR subsidies came hours after he signed an order aimed at easing ACA's rules and regulations.