Trump administration cuts grants to help people get Obamacare

The Trump administration finds another way to throw sand in Obamacare's gears at patients' expense

The Trump administration finds another way to throw sand in Obamacare's gears at patients' expense

Navigators say some of the work they do, like with Medicaid, isn't counted by the government.

Since Republican campaigns to kill Obamacare failed in Congress previous year, the Trump administration has been taking every opportunity to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. Insurers are already saying the decision will force them to set their premiums even higher in 2019 to make up for this uncertainty, which is likely to price more people out of the market. That's why Obamacare included several provisions to help insurers cover the costs of the sickest patients - among them, the risk adjustment program. These plans have been allowed under the law, but can only last a limited duration of three months, but the administration is going to publish a regulation in the coming weeks allowing consumers to enroll in these plans for a full year.

Officials with CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, one of two Maryland insurers that sell Affordable Care Act plans, said they need the payments to keep that part of their business afloat.

The data, which outlines risk adjustment transfers for the 2017 year, comes days after the agency announced it would freeze payments, citing a New Mexico court decision earlier this year that ruled CMS must rework its risk adjustment formula. The counselors, known as navigators, help consumers find an affordable health plan on the ACA exchanges.

DOJ: Russians stole info on 500,000 U.S. voters
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (C) holds a news conference at the Department of Justice July 13, 2018 in Washington, DC. Earlier Friday, Trump said he would question Putin about Russian election meddling when the two meet in Helsinki .

In its announcement, CMS said the private sector is more cost-effective, so people looking for health coverage should be encouraged to go to insurance agents and brokers (who may receive a commission, unlike navigators). "It enables the country to move away from a market where plans compete to avoid covering or charge more to people with preexisting health conditions, to one where competition is based on quality, affordable care for everyone".

There has been no demonstrable outrage from leading Democrats on Trump's intensifying campaign to transform Medicaid into a cut-rate voucher program or other aspects of the administration's crusade against the poor and dismantling of what remains of the social safety net. There is a high likelihood that the court's decision will be appealed- primarily after a different court in MA endorsed the payments. "As a result of this litigation, billions of dollars in risk adjustment payments and collections are now on hold". That's because on Tuesday, CMS announced another major cutback to its health insurance counseling program. The administration is also pushing to broaden the definition of short-term insurance, which is also exempted from the ACA's rules. "We understand the impact to the market [but] we have to follow what the courts say", Verma said. Supporters of the health law called the move another sign of the administration's determination to undermine the ACA.

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. The judge was ruling in a case filed by a small nonprofit, which argued that the program's formula disproportionately favored big insurers.

Insurers can adapt to market turmoil by raising rates.

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