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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – President Donald Trump has taken another step to rollback Obamacare.
In a late night announcement on Thursday, the White House said they would halt health insurance subsidies for low and moderate income people who buy coverage on the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, exchanges.
The payments, which lower the co-pays and out out pocket expenses, are actually made to insurance companies. The White House, in a statement, argued as other Republicans have for years that Congress hadn’t approved them so they should not be made.
“The government cannot lawfully make the cost sharing reductions,” according to the statement.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the decision to cut the subsidies.
“Under our Constitution, the power of the purse belongs to Congress, not the Executive Branch,” he said.
“These subsidies are not actually for people, they are bail-outs for insurance companies,” said Republican Senator Ted Cruz.
Friday morning, President Trump tweeted:
The Democrats ObamaCare is imploding. Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2017
Speaking at the Values Voter Summit on Friday, President Trump said he’s begun the process of giving America the great healthcare it deserves.
“We’re taking a different route then we had hoped because getting Congress, they forget what their pledges were,” he said.
About six million American qualify for the help under Obamacare. It cost the government about $7 billion this year and that number is expected to rise. The Congressional Budget Office said the elimination of the subsidies will push premiums up by 20 percent in 2018 and actually add $200 billion to the deficit over 10 years. It will also leave millions without insurance.
Earlier in the day, President Trump signed an Executive Order freeing insurance associations to sell scaled down health insurance policies across state line. Mr. Trump said, in signing the order, that this was a first step in solving the Obamacare problem.
“We are moving toward lower costs and more options in the healthcare market”” he said.
Taken together, analysts say the changes will give younger, healthier people a cheaper insurance choice at the expense of higher costs for many others.
In a joint statement Democratic leaders responded to the subsidy change.
“It is a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America. 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,” said the joint statement by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. “President Trump has apparently decided to punish the American people for his inability to improve our health care system.”
South Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen echoed a similar sentiment.
Cutting health care subsidies will mean more uninsured in my district. @potus promised more access, affordable coverage. This does opposite.
— Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (@RosLehtinen) October 13, 2017
Senator Bill Nelson, D-FL, said cutting the subsidies and scaled down health policies were not the way to go achieve true health care reform.
“In just two moves this week, President Trump continued his sabotage of the nation’s health care law by allowing for health care without the necessary protections for people with pre-existing conditions and in his latest move, ending payments that help people afford their health coverage. As I have said before, we need to focus on bipartisan solutions that will make quality health insurance affordable by fixing the existing law,” said Nelson in a statement.
The New York Attorney General has already said he’s suing to stop the president from cutting the subsidies. The subsidy payments are made monthly, the next installment is due a week from today.