According to The Washington Post, health insurance industry experts are now scrambling after President Trump ended the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) cost sharing reduction (CSR) payments.
On Thursday, Trump used an executive order to suspend the payments. This has caused a massive disruption because open enrollment begins in approximately two weeks.
Some states have already suggested they may have to delay open enrollment in order to consider raising premium prices.
Industry and policy experts agree Trump’s actions will likely decrease the number of people who are able to enroll in health insurance plans.
Allison O’Toole, who is the chief executive officer of Minnesota’s marketplace, said, “The timing couldn’t be worse.”
Peter V. Lee, the executive director of Covered California, said, “Will the [president’s] drumbeat of ‘it’s a failing marketplace’ affect enrollment? Absolutely.”
While the president’s announcement came after the deadline for insurers to withdraw from the marketplace, there is a clause that gives insurers the right to withdraw after the deadline if the CSR payments are stopped.
No insurers have announced their intention to leave the marketplace as of Sunday. However, given that many areas of the country have only one insurer, experts are concerned.
The CSR payments allow insurers to offer discounted deductibles to people making up to 250 percent of the federal poverty line. That works out to approximately $61,000 for a family of four, or $30,000 for an individual.
Insurers are still required to offer those discounts under law. However, they will no longer be reimbursed for their losses. The federal government was expected to spend $7 billion on CSRs this year.
While Trump’s executive order destabilizes the ACA, it does not repeal any of the law’s key requirements or consumer protections.
However, consumer advocates and policy experts argue the president is also trying to get around the law’s protections. Trump signed a second executive order that allows association plans to be sold across state lines. Experts argue such plans generally offer more limited coverage than standard health insurance plans.
Some states, like Washington and Colorado, required insurers to file two sets of rates. One set assumed CSR payments would continue and the other assumed they would be suspended.
However, other states, like Maryland, told insurers to only submit rates that assumed CSR payments would continue. Now those states require a new set of rates. They may have to postpone open enrollment.