Attorneys General Becerra & Schneiderman: Trump’s Delay Already Harming Those Who Need Health Care

Monday, May 22, 2017
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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued the following statement after the Trump Administration and Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives asked a federal court to delay further action in House v. Price, a case challenging the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health care subsidies, by 90 days, a move that is already causing the cost of health insurance plans to increase by up to 21 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The next reporting date, in 90 days, will be after carriers have filed their rates, which is intolerable for the health care insurance market and is likely to undermine the health insurance market, harming states and consumers.

"The Trump Administration is playing political football with millions of Americans’ health care. Using very callous tactics, Donald Trump is making it clear that he will not defend the critical subsidies that make health care accessible for millions of American families,” said Attorney General Becerra. "I, joined by 15 of my fellow attorneys general, knew it was time to intervene in this case on behalf of those Americans. No parents should worry, because of politics, about whether they can afford to take their child to a doctor or hospital.” 

“It’s clear that the Trump Administration continues to undermine our health care system – using the New Yorkers and Americans who rely on affordable coverage in a cynical political game,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “By making the cost-sharing reduction subsidies a political negotiating tool, President Trump and House Republicans aren’t just playing a cruel game with the lives of millions; they’re destabilizing the health care market and increasing premiums right now, part of an ongoing effort to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. The Trump Administration’s own recent statements show that an independent voice is needed on behalf of the millions of Americans who rely on the ACA and the affordable health care it provides. We hope the court will quickly grant our motion to intervene.”

Just last week, Attorneys General Becerra and Schneiderman took legal action to challenge the Trump Administration and protect health care access for millions of Americans, including more than five million Californians. They led a coalition of 16 attorneys general in seeking to intervene in a lawsuit filed by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives that undercuts the affordability of health insurance plans under the ACA.

In the last few weeks, Administration officials, including the President himself, have continued to threaten these vital payments. The Director of the Center for Medicaid and Medicaid Services reportedly told insurers that the payments would stop unless insurers supported the House Republican health care bill.  

In California and New York alone, 8.9 million people have health coverage as a result of the ACA. In California, since the inception of the ACA, the number of Californians without health insurance has fallen from 17% of the population in 2013 to 7.1% in 2016, an historic low. Over 50% of the individuals and families that receive coverage on Covered California, the state’s exchange, benefit from the subsidies. California has proven that the ACA works when state leaders make an earnest effort to make it work.

In New York, since the inception of the ACA, the number of New Yorkers without health insurance has fallen from 10% of the population in 2013 to 5% in 2016, a historic low.  In New York alone, the state offered roughly 730,000 residents in cost-sharing reduction subsidies in 2017, principally through the Essential Plan, which is administered by the State with the assistance of private insurers.

Background on House v. Price:

The cost-sharing subsidies help working families access more affordable healthcare coverage by helping individuals with incomes between $11,880 and $29,700. The Kaiser Family Foundation projects premiums will increase by 19% on average across the country to compensate if there is a loss of the subsidy payments, finding that the premium increases would be higher in states that have not expanded Medicaid (premium increases of 21%).

House Republicans sued the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama Administration, challenging the legality of making the cost-sharing subsidies. A district court judge ruled in favor of the House, but the ruling was appealed in order to protect access to healthcare, and the subsidies were permitted to continue pending appeal. After the election, the House requested that the case be held in suspension while newly-elected President Trump had time to make decisions regarding the case. During this time, the President has continually played politics with people’s access to affordable healthcare, including threatening to shut down the federal government by taking health care subsidies away from Americans who need health care. Today’s announcement by the Trump Administration means that states and health insurance carriers will have to set rates for the 2018 plan year without any certainty of whether or not the subsidy payments will continue. In fact, the next reporting date in 90 days is after premiums are finalized for the upcoming year in August.

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