President Trump Is Ending Subsidies That Help Low-Income Americans Purchase Health Insurance

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On Thursday, President Trump dropped an executive order on healthcare that wasn’t entirely straightforward but may result in higher insurance premiums on polices that don’t offer many consumer protections. And shortly before midnight, the Trump did it again, but this time, his plans are much clearer. The president has decided to take a sledgehammer to Obama’s signature policy by eliminating cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs) that help some low-income Americans buy health insurance within the Obamacare marketplace.

The New York Times reports that this maneuver could send premiums into the stratosphere while pushing insurers out of the Obamacare marketplace altogether. The move seems designed to somehow prove what Trump’s own thoughts on Obamacare — that it’s disastrous and harmful to America — and here’s the word from the White House:

Known as cost-sharing reduction payments, or CSRs, the subsidies were expected to total $9 billion in the coming year and nearly $100 billion in the coming decade.

“The government cannot lawfully make the cost-sharing reduction payments,” the White House said in a statement. It concluded: “Congress needs to repeal and replace the disastrous Obamacare law and provide real relief to the American people.”

CNN reports that Sarah Huckabee Sanders explained the change as a recommendation by the Justice Department, which has called the subsidies “unlawful payments” and a “bailout of insurance companies.” And the effect on low-income families could be, truly, disastrous. As detailed by the Kaiser Family Foundation, CSRs allowed Obamacare subscribers whose income hovered near the poverty line to pay deductibles of only a few hundred dollars, rather than up to $3,600.

Tellingly, the White House dropped this news in the dead of night, which means Friday should be an even more chaotic news day than usual. 2017 = never a dull moment.

(Via New York Times, CNN & Kaiser Family Foundation)