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States: Workaround succeeding after cut in health subsidies

UPDATED: Tue., July 17, 2018, 4:13 p.m.

In this March 23, 2017 photo, health care professionals join hundreds of people marching through downtown Los Angeles protesting President Donald Trump’s plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. (Reed Saxon / Associated Press)
In this March 23, 2017 photo, health care professionals join hundreds of people marching through downtown Los Angeles protesting President Donald Trump’s plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. (Reed Saxon / Associated Press)

SAN FRANCISCO – A workaround by states to counter Trump administration cuts to Affordable Care Act subsidies has largely succeeded in protecting consumers from higher costs, California and 17 other states said.

The assessment came late Monday in a court filing asking U.S. Judge Vince Chhabria to put a lawsuit involving the cuts on hold.

The filing says states have mostly protected subsidized consumers by allowing insurers to raise premiums on some plans offered on health care exchanges.

The increases triggered additional tax credits for users who qualify for subsidies on copays and deductibles, it states.

The U.S. Department of Justice said it had no comment.

President Donald Trump announced last October that he was ending government payments intended to reimburse insurers for providing low-income people with discounts on out-of-pocket costs.

He said then that former President Barack Obama’s health care law was imploding, and he criticized the subsidies as insurance company bailouts. The White House also said Congress had not formally authorized the government to make the payments.

States filed the lawsuit along with the District of Columbia. They said they had started working on ways to protect consumers in anticipation of the administration’s decision.

The strategy they chose has “provided some stability to help ensure a functioning insurance market,” the court filing said.

Last year, Chhabria rejected the lawsuit’s push for him to force the Trump administration to resume paying the subsidies right away.

The states said the administration wants Chhabria to dismiss the lawsuit, not put it on hold.

The states said they want the suit to remain alive in case the administration moves to ban the workaround.

The states joining California in the lawsuit are Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, along with the District of Columbia.


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