Top Dems urge Trump officials to reverse suspension of ObamaCare payments

Top Dems urge Trump officials to reverse suspension of ObamaCare payments

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.

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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.Frank Joseph PalloneFacebook takes down anti-NATO pages linked to Russia Overnight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal Dem chairwoman plans hearing on Medicare for all proposals MORE (N.J.), Richard NealRichard Edmund NealOn The Money: Trump teases 'major announcement' Saturday on shutdown | Fight with Dems intensifies | Pelosi accuses Trump of leaking trip to Afghanistan | Mnuchin refuses to testify on shutdown impacts Mnuchin refuses to testify at hearing on shutdown impacts On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction MORE (Mass.), Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottDems offer measure to raise minimum wage to per hour Hopes fade for bipartisan bills in age of confrontation House Dems to introduce minimum wage bill MORE (Va.), and Sens. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurraySen. Murray says Washington behavior reminds her of former preschool students Senate rejects government-wide ban on abortion funding Overnight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal MORE (Wash.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenCongress should elevate those trapped in the gap – support ELEVATE Act IRS shutdown plan fails to quell worries IRS waiving penalty for some in first filing season under Trump's tax law 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.