Top congressional Republicans have delivered a surprising plea to the Trump administration: Don’t sabotage the Affordable Care Act while we try to repeal it.
Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander on Thursday became the second GOP committee chairmen in as many weeks to urge the administration to continue payments of subsidies to insurance companies that are considered crucial to stabilizing the individual market and preventing sharp premium increases.
Under President Trump’s direction, the administration has refused to guarantee that it will pay the subsidies, which are known as “cost-sharing reduction payments” and help insurers keep down deductibles for low-income customers while still making a profit. The decision has infuriated Democrats and insurers alike, and several companies have cited the uncertainty caused by the administration as the reason for exiting Obamacare exchanges in certain states and counties.
In an unusual alliance, Republicans in Congress are now joining the effort to pressure Trump to make the payments even after they sued the Obama administration over their legality three years ago. “These payments will help to avoid the real possibility that millions of Americans will literally have zero options for insurance in the individual market in 2018,” Alexander told Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services, at a hearing on Thursday. “We have a collapsing individual market as a result of the Affordable Care Act, and as part of a transition from a collapsing market to a stable market in which Americans have more choices of insurance at a lower-cost, I believe Republicans will need to temporarily support some things we don’t want to do in the long term, and I would hope Democrats would do that as well.”