Leading liberal group opposes proposal for ObamaCare funds

Leading liberal group opposes proposal for ObamaCare funds

A leading liberal health-care advocacy group is warning against a proposal to fund ObamaCare payments, saying the move would actually harm consumers.

The group, Families USA, is opposing a plan released on Wednesday from Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderMcConnell blocks House bill to reopen government for second time Senators restart shutdown talks — and quickly hit roadblocks GOP senators propose bill to pay 'excepted' workers during shutdown MORE (R-Tenn.) in large part because the proposal would fund ObamaCare payments known as cost-sharing reductions (CSRs).

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The stance from Families USA illustrates the conflicting pressures on congressional Democrats as they enter the final days of negotiating a package to stabilize ObamaCare, which could include the CSR payments.

In October when President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE canceled those payments, Democrats denounced the move and called for quickly funding them, warning of chaos in the market.

But the chaos did not materialize, and because of a quirk in how the health law is structured, many enrollees actually benefited because their subsidies that help them afford insurance went up.

Families USA now warns that funding the CSRs would therefore reduce subsidies for many people and “actually increase premiums substantially for most people” receiving subsidies.

“Enacting the new proposal from Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) will be worse for consumers than if Congress does nothing at all to stabilize the individual insurance market,” Families USA wrote. “If this is the best package members can produce, we encourage Congress to reject it.”

In addition to funding CSRs, the Alexander proposal would also provide separate ObamaCare funding known as reinsurance to bring down premiums.

Families USA supports reinsurance, but says its inclusion in the plan is not enough to justify support. The group would support increasing ObamaCare subsidies and overruling Trump's administrative actions on the health law, but those steps are unlikely to win Republican support.

One of the main disputes preventing a deal in Congress is over the Hyde Amendment restricting funding for abortion, which Republicans say must be included and Democrats strongly oppose.

Alexander is pushing hard for his plan, though, which he hopes to include in the government funding bill next week.

Without a deal, he said this week, there will be millions of people “who are between jobs, who are self-employed, who are working, who literally cannot afford insurance, and they're not going to be very happy. And they're going to blame every one of us, and they should."