October 26, 2017 – At least for now, a federal court failed to protect the Affordable Care Act subsidies ended by the president’s executive order.
The Judge denied a request from 18 states and Washington, DC to stop the administration from scrapping the cost-sharing reduction subsidies that are paid to insurance companies to help lower costs for low-income Americans. The Center for Medicare Advocacy joined Families USA, the National Health Law Project and dozens of other health advocacy organizations in an amicus brief in support of the states.
This decision reinforces the urgent need for bipartisan Congressional action to eliminate what is essentially a tax resulting from the administration’s attempt to sabotage Obamacare by stopping cost-sharing payments.
Many insurers had already included the increase – a roughly 20 percent increase in premiums – in their 2018 premiums because of months of uncertainty and threats from the President. This is what prevented insurers, at least for 2018, from abandoning the Health Insurance Marketplace in all but a few states. This is also the reason the federal district court found a temporary restraining order was not necessary at this time. Note that this order is preliminary, not final, and there has not been a ruling on the merits of this issue.
The court didn’t have the ability to fashion relief that would protect middle class families and taxpayers from this premium “tax,” but Congress can – and the bipartisan legislation proposed in the Senate does just that. The bipartisan Senate plan will rebate the increase to families and to taxpayers, something only Congress can do. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported today that passing Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act of 2017 would keep coverage stable and reduce the deficit by $3.8 billion. The sooner the Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act of 2017 is enacted, the sooner the damage to our health care system and middle-income consumers can be undone.