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Saturday, June 15, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Trump seeks ‘Obamacare’ demise, but sign-up season gears up

UPDATED: Wed., Oct. 25, 2017, 12:18 p.m.

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Consumers can now begin previewing 2018 plans and premiums for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, even as President Donald Trump continues his push to dismantle the Obama-era law.

Open enrollment begins Nov. 1.

Officials at the Health and Human Services department said Wednesday that plans and premiums for the coming year were posted on HealthCare.gov. Starting next week, new customers can begin submitting applications, and returning ones can make changes to their coverage. Open enrollment will end early, on Dec. 15, about half the time allotted under Barack Obama’s administration.

The Trump administration’s launch comes after the president abruptly pulled the plug on federal payments that reimburse insurers for reduced copays and deductibles they’re required to provide to people of modest means. That exposes insurers to a potential $1 billion loss for the remainder of this year, and state regulators have been approving premium increases for next year to compensate.

In Rhode Island, the state insurance marketplace has dubbed its 18 percent to 20 percent increase a “Trump tax.” Administration officials say the payments were not properly approved by Congress and Trump is following the Constitution.

About 10 million people currently have private coverage through government-sponsored markets like HealthCare.gov. More than 8 in 10 customers receive tax credits to help pay their premiums, and that aid is still available despite the political turmoil.

Unlike the Obama years, the Trump administration has set no enrollment goal.

“We are really focused on having a smooth consumer experience,” said Randy Pate, director of the HHS office that oversees the program. “That is our target for this year.”

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