Kreidler: Trump action signals continuing moves to harm individual health insurance

Trump administration freezes billions of dollars in payments to Obamacare insurers

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced over the weekend that it was freezing billions of dollars in so-called risk adjustment payments for plans under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, because of a court decision earlier this year that deemed the formula for determining these payments unlawful.

Financing for the 2019 enrollment season is being cut to $10 million from $36 million. In addition, the navigators who remain are being asked to inform consumers about association health plans and short-term health plans, two types of policies the Trump administration has supported as less expensive alternatives to exchange policies. After numerous failed legislative attempts to repeal the ACA, Republicans have turned instead to packing the courts with narrow-minded elitists as another method to dismantle the law and strip health care from millions of American families.

Since Congress was unable to pass such a law, Trump and his aides have been taking a series of steps to weaken the law through administration maneuvers.

The president last fall issued an executive order to try to make it easier for individuals and small businesses to buy health plans that cost less than ACA coverage because they cover fewer services and bypass rules meant to protect people from previous practices in which insurers charged higher prices to women, older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions. Almost 9 in 10 people buying coverage on the ACA exchanges qualify for federal subsidies based on their incomes, and the amount those subsidies rose a year ago because of an increase in silver-plan premiums.

CMS said the cuts are warranted because Americans have grown more aware of the marketplace, and navigators enrolled fewer than 1 percent of the 12 million Americans who signed up for coverage under Obamacare this year.

Navigator groups located in federal exchange states have grown anxious in recent weeks because their federal funding ends in September and they did not know how much money will be available beyond then.

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The Trump administration broadened the opportunity for private sector agents and brokers to assist consumers in signing up last fall.

In the 2019 filings, the state's largest insurance company, Anthem, will only offer catastrophic coverage in five counties next year.

Ray's group received $4.9 million previous year to fund more than 130 navigators across Florida to reach the state's vulnerable residents. The imposition of work requirements will not "dignify" program recipients and "lift them out of poverty", but will in many cases bump them off the benefit rolls through onerous requirements.

As for the priority given to applicants that help spread the word about non-ACA health plans, Edwards said: "It's inappropriate". But people who earn too much to qualify could be priced out of insurance.

When the ACA was passed in 2010, one of the most important tenets of the law was the rule stating that insurers must accept all patients regardless of their health history. Eligible organizations include small businesses, local chambers of commerce, trade associations, and other community groups. 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.

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