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Top Dems urge Trump officials to reverse suspension of ObamaCare payments

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A patient is shown signing up for ObamaCare insurance in this Nov. 22, 2017, file photo.

Top congressional Democrats are calling on the Trump administration to reverse its decision to suspend key ObamaCare payments to insurers, warning the suspension will cause premiums to rise.

“The Administration’s decision to suspend these collections and payments, which are required under federal law, appears to be yet another attempt by the Trump Administration to sabotage the nation’s health care system for partisan gain,” the Democrats wrote in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“We ask that you take immediate action to reverse this destructive decision that will further destabilize the individual and small group markets that millions of Americans rely on for health insurance,” they added.

Earlier this month, the administration made the surprise announcement that it is suspending $10.4 billion in payments to health insurers, through a program called risk adjustment.

Insurers immediately warned that the decision would lead to increased premiums for 2019 and would cause further uncertainty.

{mosads}Democrats are using the decision as another point in their argument that Republicans are sabotaging the health law and driving up people’s costs, a key midterm election argument.

The letter is signed by the top Democrats on Congress’s health care committees: Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), Richard Neal (Mass.), Bobby Scott (Va.), and Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.).  

The Trump administration cited as its reason for stopping the payments a court ruling from a federal judge in New Mexico finding that the administration had not fully justified its formula for dispensing the funds.

But legal experts and insurers said the administration did not need to go so far as to suspend all payments in response to the ruling. It could have instead simply provided a more detailed explanation of its formula to the court.

Democrats in their letter urged the administration to take that response, and also asked for details on the decision, such as which officials were responsible.

No taxpayer money is involved in the program. Instead money is collected from some insurers (those with healthier patients overall) and redistributed to insurers with sicker and more costly patients to help cover their costs.

Tags Bobby Scott Frank Pallone Jr. Patty Murray Richard Neal Ron Wyden

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