President Trump on Thursday threatened to withhold key payments to insurance companies made under ObamaCare, a move that could throw the market into chaos.
In an interview with The Economist, Trump said he would cut off the cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) — payments that reimburse insurers for providing discounted out-of-pocket costs to help those with low incomes afford insurance.
"[T]here is no Obamacare, it’s dead. Plus we’re subsidizing it and we don’t have to subsidize it. You know if I ever stop wanting to pay the subsidies, which I will," Trump said. "Anytime I want."
Insurance companies rely on the payments, and many have said they will be forced to raise premiums or completely drop out of the ObamaCare marketplace if the payments don't continue.
The CSRs amount to about $7 billion a year and are currently being made by the executive branch, but the payments could be stopped at any time due to an ongoing lawsuit filed by House Republicans during the Obama administration.
The House GOP argued in their suit that the payments were unconstitutional because Congress didn't approve them. The House won, but the administration appealed, and the payments have continued ever since. If Trump drops the appeal, the payments will end.
Democrats had hoped to include funding for the CSR payments in the year-end government spending bill last month, but those payments were left out when the administration agreed to temporarily continue funding them. But Trump has warned that the payments may not go beyond this month.
"No, this bill only gives them one month. They don’t realize that," Trump said in the interview.