The Health Insurers Squawk

Trump Administration To Stop Paying Some Obamacare Bills

Trump Administration To Stop Paying Some Obamacare Bills

Scott Serota, president of the Blue Cross nationwide association, said insurers "are extremely disappointed that the administration has frozen payment transfers under the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) risk adjustment program, which is created to keep costs down for consumers while meeting the medical needs of those requiring significant care".

There has been no demonstrable outrage from leading Democrats on Trump's intensifying campaign to transform Medicaid into a cut-rate voucher program or other aspects of the administration's crusade against the poor and dismantling of what remains of the social safety net. That's bad news for the chronically ill, the disabled, the elderly and all others whose health care costs can run considerably higher than average. But the suspension of the federal payments for insurers who take on riskier consumers could complicate next year's market and boost prices yet again.

The agency once again defended the decrease by saying that navigators, which usually hail from non-profit and community organizations, are not effective.

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The program's freeze comes after a federal judge in New Mexico ruled that the formula it used to redistribute the money was flawed. The payments also were meant to try to prevent insurers from cherry-picking healthier patients to keep costs down. The agencies in a statement said that they were seeking legal redress and understanding and will be informing all the involved participants of any bring up-to-date information regarding the current collections or future payments at the right time.

"President Trump indicated his support for the plan the day after its publication, tweeting: "...on conservative health plan: "'The White House fully supports the efforts of the broad coalition from around the country working to address the Obamacare disaster and increase affordable healthcare options for middle-class Americans'". "In general, when there's uncertainty in the market, insurers will cushion themselves however they can", she said.

Although small insurance plans and some cooperatives complained that Obamacare risk adjustment skewed in favor of bigger, entrenched players, almost all insurers condemned the CMS ruling to freeze the risk adjustments. That's because many ACA customers will qualify for federal government premium subsidies, which are still alive and well in Obamacare. The excuse Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is giving is that they believe the navigators don't sign up as many people as private entities like insurance brokers. This year it will spend just $10 million, down from $36 million spent last fall and $63 million under the Obama administration in 2016. This year they helped sign up almost 520,000 people for health insurance sold through the ACA exchange in North Carolina. That's because on Tuesday, CMS announced another major cutback to its health insurance counseling program.

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"Given the continued attacks on health care, including federal rules allowing the resurgence of low-priced, junk health insurance plans, such as "association health plans" and "short-term plans", consumers looking for good, comprehensive coverage could be easily confused", said Frederick Isasi, executive director of Families USA, a left-leaning advocacy organization.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

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