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Art of the deal! Congress has until Oct. 20 to fix healthcare

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Art of the deal! Congress has until Oct. 20 to fix healthcare

Post by Harry on Fri Oct 13, 2017 1:48 pm

Art of the deal! Congress has until Oct. 20 to fix healthcare

October 13, 2017


President Donald Trump was elected to shake-up Washington, D.C. — and his latest move has left Congress steaming mad.

Trump has left them a time-bomb to get healthcare reform done by Oct. 20, or he’ll simply strangle Obamacare.

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In a brash move likely to roil insurance markets, Trump will “immediately” halt payments to insurers under the healthcare law he has been trying to unravel for months.

The next payment is due next Friday, which gives Congress incentive to get to work… fast.

Before sunrise Friday morning, Trump went on Twitter to urge Democrats to make a deal —

The Department of Health and Human Services had made the announcement in a statement late Thursday. “We will discontinue these payments immediately,” said acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan and Medicare administrator Seema Verma. Sign-up season for subsidized private insurance starts Nov. 1, in less than three weeks.

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In a separate statement, the White House said the government cannot legally continue to pay the so-called cost-sharing subsidies because they lack a formal authorization by Congress. Officials said a legal opinion from the Justice Department supports that conclusion.

However, the administration had been making the payments from month to month, even as Trump threatened to cut them off to force Democrats to negotiate over healthcare. The subsidies help lower copays and deductibles for people with modest incomes.

Halting the payments would trigger a spike in premiums, unless Congress authorizes the money.

The top two Democrats in Congress have been left incredibly upset.

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“It is a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America,” said House and Senate Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi of California and Chuck Schumer of New York. “Make no mistake about it, Trump will try to blame the Affordable Care Act, but this will fall on his back and he will pay the price for it.”

However, they’ve been left with no option but to come to the bargaining table to talk with Trump. In a subsequent tweet, Trump asserted —

Word of Trump’s plan came on a day when the president had also signed an executive order directing government agencies to design insurance plans that would offer lower premiums outside the requirements of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

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Frustrated over setbacks in Congress, Trump is wielding his executive powers to bring the “repeal and replace” debate to a head. He appears to be following through on his vow to punish Democrats and insurers after the failure of GOP healthcare legislation.

While the legal issue seems arcane, the impact on consumers would be real.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that premiums for a standard “silver” plan will increase by about 20 percent without the subsidies. Insurers can recover the cost-sharing money by raising premiums, since those are also subsidized by the ACA, and there’s no legal question about their appropriation.

Consumers who receive tax credits under the ACA to pay their premiums would be shielded from those premium increases.

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But millions of others buy individual health care policies without any financial assistance from the government and could face prohibitive increases.

Unless their election officials negotiate a deal… quickly.

The Associated Press contributed to this article


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