Monday, 24 September, 2018

Trump administration deals another potential blow to Obamacare

Fargo North Dakota. President Trump held a campaign style Justin Sullivan Getty Images North America
Ben Pena | 10 July, 2018, 21:22

The Trump administration is halting billions of dollars in payments required under the ACA, citing a district court decision in New Mexico from earlier this year.

"We were disappointed by the court's recent ruling", Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers the program, told The Wall Street Journal in a statement.

The program takes payments from insurers with healthier customers and redistributes the money to companies with sicker enrollees.

"I think insurers are going to be watching very closely what the administration says in court, and whether this is a sign of further steps to undermine the law, or a good faith effort to try to comply with the judge's order", he says. They claim its reimbursement formula is flawed and CMS has ignored it for years, resulting in the failure of many small health plans.

Risk adjustment is a key aspect of market stabilization under the ACA, also known as Obamacare. "There is a need to analyze insurers case-by-case and account for their competitive landscapes", said Tinglong Dai, an associate professor of operations management and business analytics at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School.

The Trump administration has halted billions of dollars of Obamacare payments to insurers due to a court ruling.

The main insurance trade associations in Washington have been organizing calls with their member companies and trying to coordinate a response.

In December, the GOP Congress eliminated the requirement that all Americans have health insurance - a provision of the ACA that balanced out the sick and healthy to keep insurance prices lower.

Jeremy Hunt replaces Boris Johnson as foreign secretary
In her statement Prime Minister vowed to deliver "a Brexit that is in our national interest, the right Brexit deal for Britain". Writing on Twitter, he added: "Huge honour to be appointed Foreign Secretary at this critical moment in our country's history".

About 20 million Americans have received health insurance coverage through the program.

Levitt says the administration's announcement was "a little perplexing", given that the legal fight over the conflicting rulings in New Mexico and MA is still ongoing.

"This decision comes at a critical time when insurance providers are developing premiums for 2019 and states are reviewing rates".

Reuters' characterization of the move is that "President Donald Trump's administration has used its regulatory powers to undermine Obamacare after the Republican-controlled Congress previous year failed to repeal and replace the law". In October 2017, the White House announced it would end Obamacare cost-sharing payments that helped lower-income enrollees pay for health care.

Health insurers say it is a move that could drive up premium costs and create marketplace uncertainty. On the same day, Minuteman Health, Inc. filed a similar complaint in district court in MA.

In the MA case, however, a federal judge upheld the Obamacare formula, the Journal reports.

Trump administration officials said they were forced to make the cuts after a federal court in New Mexico ruled in February that the formula for calculating risk adjustment could not use a statewide average premium.

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