The Trump administration said Saturday that it is temporarily halting billions of dollars of payments designed to help insurers meet the Affordable Care Act requirement that they provide coverage regardless of whether a person is healthy or sick.
The administration said it was withholding $10.4 billion in the so-called "risk adjustment" payments, citing a district court ruling from earlier this year in New Mexico. While the administration says it is required to stop payments because of the court decision, insurers say the move could result in higher premiums for millions of individuals and small businesses.
"Insurers hate uncertainty, and when faced with it tend to raise premiums to hedge their bets," says Larry Levitt, Senior Vice President at the Kaiser Family Foundation. He says halting the risk adjustment program will disrupt the individual markets, and might even cause insurers not to participate next year.
"When the rules of the game change after the fact – insurers don't necessarily see the federal government as a particularly reliable partner right now," Levitt says. "This is one of several steps the Trump administration has taken to undermine the ACA."
The pro-ACA group Protect Our Care issued a statement from its executive director, Brad Woodhouse, Saturday: "Following through with this latest act of sabotage could raise rates for all consumers even more — on top of the rate hikes they have already caused — and is without a doubt an escalation in the Trump administration's war on people with pre-existing conditions."
Call your Congressperson to demand payments continue until legalities are resolved completely.