Health Insurance Groups Push Congress, Trump To Fund Obamacare Cost-Sharing Reductions

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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A number of top health-care organizations are pushing President Donald Trump and Congress to continue to fund the cost-sharing reduction (CSRs) subsides established by the Obama administration.

In letters sent to Trump and congressional leadership Wednesday, the groups — which include names like the BlueCross Blue Shield Association, the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association — argued CRAs are necessary to ensure the individual marketplace isn’t destabilized. The program was aimed at supplementing the out-of-pocket costs for individuals and families enrolled in Obamacare plans that fall below the poverty line, but has received pushback due to the Obama administration failing to gain congressional approval to fund the program.

“The most critical action to help stabilize the individual market for 2017 and 2018 is to remove uncertainty about continued funding for cost sharing reductions (CSR),” they wrote. “Nearly 60 percent of all individuals who purchase coverage via the marketplace – 7 million people – receive assistance to reduce deductibles, co-payments, and/or out-of-pocket limits through CSR payments. This funding helps those who need it the most to access quality care: low- and modest income consumers earning less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level.”

According to the health-care organizations, with premiums expected to continue to climb in 2018, consumers could be left with limited options for coverage.

“Analysts estimate that loss of CSR funding alone would increase premiums for all consumers – both on and off the exchange – by at least 15 percent,” they continued. “Higher premium rates could drive out of the market those middle-income individuals who are not eligible for tax credits.

Critics have blasted the subsidy program as unconstitutional, with former House Speaker John Boehner having filed a law suit against the Obama administration in 2014 for withdrawing funds from Treasury despite having their appropriations request rebuffed by the legislative branch.

House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters in March he expects the payments to continue while the lawsuit plays out.

“While the lawsuit is being litigated, then the administration funds these benefits,” he said. “That’s how they’ve been doing it and I don’t see any change in that.”

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