Trump Threat: End Health Payments Unless There's an Overhaul - NBC Connecticut
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Trump Threat: End Health Payments Unless There's an Overhaul

Without the payments, analysts have said, more insurers might drop out of the system, limiting options for consumers and clearing the way for the insurers who stay to charge more for coverage

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    Dr. Stuart Altman, Chairman of the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission talks about what may be next for health care after the Senate fails to repeal or replace Obamacare. For now. (Published Friday, July 28, 2017)

    President Donald Trump on Saturday threatened once more to end required payments to insurance companies unless lawmakers repeal and replace the Obama-era health care law.

    In apparent frustration over Friday's failure by the Senate Republican majority to pass a bill repealing parts of the Affordable Care Act, Trump tweeted: "If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!"

    No Democrats voted for the GOP bill.

    Repeal-and-replace has been a guiding star for Republicans ever since President Barack Obama enacted the law in 2010. That goal, which Trump turned into a top campaign promise, remains out of reach even with Republicans controlling both the White House and Congress. The issue has dominated the opening months of Trump's presidency.

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    White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House was "excited about the progress" made repealing and replacing Obama-era health care reform. Later Wednesday, a repeal effort failed in the Senate.

    (Published Wednesday, July 26, 2017)

    But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said after the bill failed early Friday that he would move to other legislative business in the upcoming week.

    Trump also tweeted: "Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead! Demand another vote before voting on any other bill!"

    The subsidies, totaling about $7 billion a year, help reduce deductibles and copayments for consumers with modest incomes.

    The Obama administration used its rule-making authority to set direct payments to insurers to help offset these costs. Trump inherited the payment structure, but he also has the power to end them.

    The payments are the subject of a lawsuit brought by House Republicans over whether the Affordable Care Act specifically included a congressional appropriation for the money, as required under the Constitution. Trump has only guaranteed the payments through July, which ends Monday.

    Trump previously said the law that he and others call "Obamacare" would collapse immediately whenever those payments stop. He has indicated a desire to halt the subsidies but so far has allowed them to continue on a month-to-month basis.

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    Lawmakers took to the Senate floor overnight Thursday to vote on the latest GOP health care overhaul measure, just hours after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the bill's text. The Health Care Freedom Act, called the "skinny repeal," failed to pass in a 49-51 vote, which included "no" votes from Republican Sens. John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins.

    (Published Friday, July 28, 2017)

    Without the payments, analysts have said, more insurers might drop out of the system, limiting options for consumers and clearing the way for the insurers who stay to charge more for coverage.

    The Senate's Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, cautioned such a step, saying it would make health care more expensive.

    "If the president refuses to make the cost sharing reduction payments, every expert agrees that premiums will go up and health care will be more expensive for millions of Americans," Schumer said Saturday in a written statement. "The president ought to stop playing politics with people's lives and health care, start leading and finally begin acting presidential."