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.
The letter is signed by the top Democrats on Congress’s health care committees: Reps. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHouse Democrats announce bill to rein in tech algorithms House Democrats ramp up probe of FDA approval of Alzheimer's drug Intercept bureau chief: Democrats dropping support of Medicare for All could threaten bill's momentum MORE (N.J.), Richard NealRichard Edmund NealPelosi: Democrats within striking distance of deal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat Democratic frustration with Sinema rises MORE (Mass.), Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottPandemic leads to sharp drop in school enrollment Democratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse Watchdog: 7 members of Congress allegedly failed to disclose stock trades MORE (Va.), and Sens. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayUnder pressure, Democrats cut back spending Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised Senate Democrats ditch Hyde amendment for first time in decades MORE (Wash.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenClimate advocates turn sights on Wall Street Democrats scramble to reach deal on taxes Pelosi open to scrapping key components in spending package MORE (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.