Trump Administration Aims to Steer People Toward Junk Health Plans Over Obamacare

Trump Administration Aims to Steer People Toward Junk Health Plans Over Obamacare

Trump Administration Aims to Steer People Toward Junk Health Plans Over Obamacare

The Trump administration's decision to freeze billions in payments to health insurers with plans under Obamacare that cover a higher number of sicker patients could cause health care premiums to rise in 2019.

The announcement was made by Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and was precipitated by a New Mexico court ruling that suggested the calculations for the risk-adjusted premiums were flawed even despite a MA ruling that validated them.

Trump's administration has used its regulatory powers to undermine the ACA on multiple fronts after the Republican-controlled Congress a year ago failed to repeal and replace the law instituted by Democratic President Barack Obama. About 20 million Americans have received health insurance coverage through the program known as Obamacare. The CMS makes risk-adjustment payments to insurers to help encourage them to participate in the marketplace and offset the costs of enrolling more expensive - high risk - people in insurance pools.

The risk-adjustment program, which does not cost taxpayers any money and is required by law, is created to ensure that health care coverage is available for sicker, higher-cost patients by sharing the cost of covering them. In January a federal court in MA ruled the formula wasn't arbitrary and capricious.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association says freezing the risk adjustment payments will raise premiums for millions of individuals and small business owners and might substantially shrink the number of health plan choices.

CMS plans to appeal the court's ruling, as the U.S. District Court for the District of MA ruled to uphold the payments.

The CMS statement said the agency has asked the New Mexico court to reconsider its decision and expressed hope for a prompt resolution of the issue.

But Senator Ron Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said encouraging navigators to promote plans that don't comply with the ACA is "federally funded fraud: paying groups to sell unsuspecting Americans on junk plans that allow insurance companies to deny care on a whim and charge whatever they want is nothing but a scam". "It moves us back to some extent to the status quo where people with pre-existing conditions found it very hard to get insurance". Payments for 2017 are $10.4 billion.

These "association health plans" are just one more facet of Trump's Obamacare sabotage, cheap plans with limited coverage meant to draw healthy people out of the Obamacare markets.

Risk adjustment is an important part of the ACA.

For the second time in days, the Trump administration is taking action to undercut the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.

"This decision comes at a critical time when insurance providers are developing premiums for 2019 and states are reviewing rates". Trump is doing his damnedest to prevent a repeat of that, to suck people out of Obamacare, just because he can.

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