Commentary

Explained: Trump’s latest mad health policy diktat

From the health policy experts at the NC Justice Center…

Health Care Sabotage Effort Puts a “Trump Tax” on North Carolinians’ Premiums Next Year
Latest move will increase North Carolinians’ premiums by 14 percent, destabilize insurance market, and increase the federal deficit

RALEIGH (October 13, 2017) — Last night, the Trump administration announced it will stop compensating insurance companies for Cost-Sharing Reductions, a benefit that reduces out-of-pocket health care costs for consumers with low incomes. This move will force insurance companies to face financial losses and raise their premiums to make up the difference. While Trump claims to be attacking the Affordable Care Act, his politically-motivated decision will hurt low- and moderate-income North Carolinians, as they’ll pay higher monthly premiums for their health insurance coverage.

Earlier this year, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina announced it would seek a premium increase of 14.1 percent next year in order to offset financial losses if Trump eliminated CSR funding. In other words, Blue Cross Blue Shield premiums will increase for North Carolinians because of the Trump administration’s deliberate health care sabotage.

This year in North Carolina, 356,560 people—65 percent of those who enrolled in a plan—qualified for these reduced costs. Insurance companies are required to provide these subsidies, called Cost-Sharing Reductions (CSRs), to consumers so eligible consumers can still use their CSR plans for the rest of the year, and they will still be able to qualify for these benefits in 2018.

Earlier this summer, the Congressional Budget Office released a report on the effects of terminating payments for CSRs. Trump’s payment for cost sharing reductions would have the following harmful impacts nationwide:

  • Increase premiums next year by 20 percent, as insurers charge consumers higher premiums to make up for the lost federal funding. Premiums would rise by 25 percent in 2020 compared to CBO’s baseline.
  • Drive insurance companies out of some markets, leaving 5 percent of the population without access to any nongroup insurance plans.
  • Increase the number of uninsured by 1 million in 2018 due to lacking any insurance carriers in their markets.
  • Increase the federal deficit by $194 billion through inefficient spending, as cutting off CSR payments will require the federal government to spend more on premium tax credits to offset the premium increases for those who qualify for subsidies.

“Cost-sharing reductions help lower out-of-pocket costs, co-payments, and deductibles for two-thirds of marketplace enrollees in North Carolina,” said Brendan Riley, policy analyst for the Health Advocacy Project of the North Carolina Justice Center. “Trump’s latest ACA sabotage effort will not only drive up premiums and destabilize the market, it will also cost taxpayers. Congress must act immediately to appropriate funding for cost-sharing reductions.”

Meanwhile, even some congressional Republicans are questioning this dangerous action.

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