Trump adds more confusion to Obamacare

Trump administration freezes billions of dollars in payments to Obamacare insurers

CareSource, which will offer insurance in 79 of Indiana's 92 counties in 2019, would have gone from being a net receiver of money from the pool to paying about $16 million a year to other insurers - that is, until the freeze went into effect. Many of those are self-employed people and small-business owners, generally seen as a Republican constituency. Administration officials tout these plans as more affordable, but they're cheaper because they don't have to meet the ACA's requirements for decent health plans, like including maternity care and prescription drug coverage, and charging the same rate for people with preexisting conditions.

The president last fall also issued an executive order to try to make it easier for individuals and small businesses to buy health plans that cost less than ACA coverage because they cover fewer medical services and bypass the law's rules meant to protect people from old insurance practices in which companies had charged higher prices to women, older people, and those with preexisting medical conditions.

Since efforts in Congress to repeal Obama's signature health care law failed, the Trump administration to pursue administrative changes to chip away at the 2010 law.

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Over the weekend arrived some fresh political fury that the Trump Administration is trying to sabotage ObamaCare by suspending something called "risk adjustment" payments. Agents and brokers assisted 42 percent of FFE enrollees, costing the exchanges about $2.40 per enrollee to provide technical support and assistance.

A federal court ruling in New Mexico found the administration did not properly justify its formula for dispensing the funds. Unlike with other ObamaCare subsidy programs, risk adjustment payments shuffle money from insurers with relatively healthy populations to others. "CMS has asked the court to reconsider its ruling, and hopes for a prompt resolution that allows CMS to prevent more adverse impacts on Americans who receive their insurance in the individual and small group markets". The administration is also pushing to broaden the definition of short-term insurance, which is also exempted from the ACA's rules. This is the second round of cuts, after CMS reduced funding for navigators by 41 percent, from $62.5 million, last August, and also cut the budget for Obamacare outreach and advertising by 90 percent. "The Trump administration needs to stop playing Russian Roulette with our health care system". Back in February, a federal judge partially agreed with the insurer and barred the government from making further collections or payments using its current formula. The administration could just as easily have listened to a judge in MA who ruled the opposite way or awaited the results of an appeal.

The cost of any increase in premiums that results from the risk adjustment payments may come from taxpayer dollars. With suspension of the risk adjustment payments, insurers must now contend with another disruption to the market by the time they finalize rates early this fall. If that doesn't happen, some insurers may need to boost their premiums for 2019, she said.

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