U.S. governors urge Trump to make
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[August 03, 2017]
By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic and
Republican U.S. governors on Wednesday urged the Trump administration,
as well as Congress, to continue funding payments to health insurance
companies that make Obamacare plans affordable, calling it critical to
stabilizing the insurance marketplace.
Republican President Donald Trump, frustrated that Obamacare survived
attempts to repeal it, has threatened to cut off about $8 billion in
subsidies that help control costs for low-income Americans under the
Affordable Care Act, Democratic former President Barack Obama's
signature domestic initiative.
"The Administration has the opportunity to stabilize the health
insurance market across our nation and ensure that our residents can
continue to access affordable health care coverage," said a statement by
the Health and Human Services Committee of the National Governors
"A first critical step ... is to fully fund CSRs (cost-sharing reduction
payments) for the remainder of calendar year 2017 through 2018," the
statement said, adding this was needed as Congress and the
administration address long-term reform efforts.
The committee is led by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat,
and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican. Earlier this
year, the governors sent a letter calling on Congress to fully fund the
Some Congressional Republicans have joined Democrats in urging Trump to
continue the payments. Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, chairman of
the health committee, said Tuesday the president should pay the
subsidies through September while lawmakers work on bipartisan
legislation to fund the outlays for another year.
But the Senate's No. 2 Republican John Cornyn hesitated when asked
Wednesday if he would support such legislation.
"I've said before that I'm not in favor of throwing money at insurance
companies without reform, so thatís going to be the nature of the
conversation," Cornyn told reporters outside his office.
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Demonstrators hold signs during a protest against the repeal of the
Affordable Care Act outside the Capitol Building in Washington,
U.S., March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Asked what reforms he'd like to see, Cornyn mentioned the "skinny"
Obamacare repeal bill the Senate voted down last week. Among other
things, it would have repealed the requirement that every American
have health insurance or pay a penalty.
Insurers say that the cost-sharing payments are passed onto
customers in the form of lower deductibles and co-pays that make
care more affordable for low income Americans.
Insurers are finalizing 2018 premium rates for the individual
Obamacare market, with many saying their decision hinges on
government guarantees for cost-sharing subsidies.
Molina Healthcare Inc said on Wednesday it would stop selling
Obamacare plans in Utah and Wisconsin, joining a slew of health
insurers that have exited Obamacare markets amid uncertainty over
the healthcare law.
Anthem Inc, one of the largest sellers of these plans in 2017, has
pared back offerings or mostly exited five states including
California and may exit more.
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told CNN the
administration was still considering whether to end cost-sharing
(additional reporting by Caroline Humer and Susan Heavey; Editing by
Tom Brown and David Gregorio)
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