Monday, 22 October, 2018

Trump administration slashes more ObamaCare funds

WASHINGTON DC- MARCH 22 U.S. President Donald Trump listens to Seema Verma administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service during a Women in Healthcare panel in the Roosevelt Room at the White House Trump Administration To Stop Paying Some Obamacare Bills
Ben Pena | 14 July, 2018, 21:13

These alternative plans don't have to provide all of the Affordable Care Act's consumer protections.

CMS also notes that after last year's navigator funding was reduced, the overall enrollment in Obamacare plans increased slightly (when counting people who paid their first month's premiums) to 10.6 million people.

The Trump administration's decision to halt federal health insurance transfer payments will lead to uncertainty and market disruption, insurers say.

When the ACA was passed in 2010, one of the most important tenets of the law was the rule stating that insurers must accept all patients regardless of their health history. This idea of pooling risk has had significant practical effects: encouraging insurers to participate in the insurance marketplaces the ACA created for Americans who can not get affordable health benefits through a job.

This provision, called "guarantee issue", remains one of the most popular among consumers, according to numerous opinion polls. The Republican Congress failed to repeal it, so the Trump administration has redoubled its efforts to gut it. More established insurers including Centene Corp. and Medica have also announced expansion plans.

The Trump administration announced Saturday evening that it is temporarily freezing billions of dollars of payments to health insurance companies meant to help them manage higher-risk patients, sparking backlash from the industry's lobbying arm as insurers continue to struggle to adjust to the administration's repeated attacks on Obamacare.

All of this increases the risk payers take by participating in a federally sponsored program, and it makes it more hard for payers and providers to reach deals with which all parties are comfortable, he adds.

Some have said CMS is being deliberately disruptive because of its hostility to ObamaCare, and that government programs should not be at the mercy of a lone federal judge.

But in January, in a separate case, a federal district judge in MA upheld the government formula used to calculate the payments.

The ambiguity involved in the conflicting New Mexico and MA rulings may mean the suspension of payments will indeed be temporary. "There was initial panic after the announcement, but the technical problems can be worked out".

A professor who follows Obamacare said it is unclear if the payments' suspension will result in higher premiums.

Donald Trump apologises to Theresa May after explosive newspaper interview
British Parliament member Kate Hoey on President Trump's comments about British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he did not feel Britain should be "rolling out the red carpet" to Mr Trump.

Nonetheless, the timing is problematic. Initial reports of sky-high premium increases have been offset somewhat by more recent reports of moderate increases, according to data from Kaiser Family Foundation.

State officials, with bipartisan support from both Gov. Larry Hogan and the General Assembly, asked the federal agency this spring for permission to establish a reinsurance program that would create a $462 million fund for insurers to cover the most expensive claims.

Technically, the administration has only suspended risk adjustment payments, not permanently ended them.

"This is how health care disparities are exacerbated - we will be put in the very bad position of pitting populations that need assistance against each other in order to prioritize how we can use the resources", she said.

Payments and collections of risk adjustment payments and charges were scheduled to begin in August. "And costs for taxpayers will rise as the federal government spends more on premium subsidies", AHIP said in a statement.

The Trump administration's move "will significantly increase 2019 premiums for millions of individuals and small business owners and could result in far fewer health plan choices", association president Scott Serota said in a statement.

"Investors should read headlines about the delay in risk adjustment payments cautiously", she said.

But at the same time, Verma would not say if the administration plans to stop approving state Medicaid work requirement waivers.

CMS said navigators' funding will be tied to their ability to sign people up in previous years.

CMS now wants the navigators to promote these policies in addition to steering people toward ACA-compliant plans and Medicaid.

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