President Donald Trump said he had to blow up the Obamacare cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidy program in order to fix the U.S.’s health care problems.
“Republicans are meeting with Democrats because of what I did with the CSRs,” Trump said on Monday at a Cabinet meeting, referring to subsidies to insurers the administration said on Thursday it was cutting off. “If I didn’t cut the CSRs they wouldn’t be meeting, they’d be having lunch and enjoying themselves, alright. They’re right now having emergency meetings to have a short-term fix of health care.”
The administration’s explanation for Trump’s move is that the payments are illegal because they weren’t appropriated by Congress in the Affordable Care Act. That issue is the subject of a dispute now before the courts. But Trump’s former top strategist, Steve Bannon, said on Saturday that Trump ended the payments to sabotage the health law.
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Trump’s decision to stop paying the CSRs has added urgency to efforts to shore up the individual major medical insurance market, two weeks before the individual major medical open enrollment period for 2018 is set to begin. Insurers are boosting premiums significantly, and lawmakers led by Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray have been working across the aisle to try to stabilize the health law, chiefly to avoid those rate hikes.
On Monday, Trump touted his role in pushing forward efforts by lawmakers to forge a deal.
“We’ll have a short-term fix with Republicans and Democrats getting together,” Trump said.
Trump’s actions have brought together other unlikely allies as well. Insurers, doctors, hospitals and company lobbyists on Saturday sent a letter to lawmakers asking them to make sure the cost-sharing payments are funded.