Delay in court case deepens health insurance uncertainty

Raquel Nash
May 25, 2017

As a bargaining chip with Democrats, President Trump has threatened to end the subsidies that reduce co-pays and deductibles for lower-income consumers. They would substitute their own tax credits, ease coverage requirements and cut the federal-state Medicaid program for the poor and disabled that Obama enlarged.

At the April meeting, according to multiple industry officials interviewed by The Times, [CMS Administrator Seema] Verma linked the aid to the House repeal legislation, telling insurers the aid wouldn't be paid until the House bill passed, while also asking health insurers to endorse the bill.

It's been a steeper drop among the voters who helped elect Trump in November: 77 percent of Trump voters said they trusted the GOP more to handle health care in early March, compared with 70 percent who still trusted Congress' majority party in the most recent poll. This means that subsidies that help more than 7 million low-income Americans afford health care can continue in the meantime.

It's unclear Democrats would offer their needed cooperation, but Republicans are talking about it. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Rates for the 2018 plan year are finalized throughout the fall according to various state and federal deadlines. I don't want people to get hurt ... It's perhaps the part of Obama's law that Republicans most detest.

If you are having chest pains or you just sliced your hand open while carving a chicken, you can go to almost any hospital with an emergency department, and — under the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) — the staff is obligated to conduct a medical exam to see if you need emergency care.

"If we can't do the real thing, we'd have to do the next best thing", Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said of short-term legislation.

Though it's considered unlikely, if the bill lacks sufficient savings, the House might have to revise the bill and vote again, which could be an ordeal for GOP leaders.

Time is important, especially with Trump's problems distracting lawmakers.

Under the bill passed by the House, people who have a break in their health insurance coverage of more than 63 days in a year would be hit with a 30 percent premium surcharge for the year after buying a new plan on the individual market. Senate conservatives prefer to start phasing out that money next year. Next month's payment is due June 20.

The move may put off a showdown over the assistance, which health insurers and many experts believe is crucial to sustaining insurance markets created by the Affordable Care Act.

The 90-day delay will force the companies to guess about the premiums they need to charge to cover the costs of insuring the individual market population.

Workers on the front lines of health care in South Florida are bracing for this tragedy: working-class Americans, seniors, children with disabilities, patients with pre-existing conditions, and many others needlessly suffering without proper health coverage. Those numbers will give senators a starting point and could be a big deal.

The number of uninsured: The first CBO score estimated that 24 million more people would be uninsured in 2026, and the number did not change in the second analysis.

In South Florida, the retiring Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was the lone Republican free to vote her conscience and against the Trump-led tax grab.

Later this week, Trump is expected to unveil a budget proposal that would decimate low-income health coverage by cutting $800 billion out of Medicaid.

Small businesses (generally companies with 50 or fewer employees) in those states would also be affected by the change.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, of California, criticized the threats to stop the payments.

Other reports by TheDigitalNewspaper

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