President Donald Trump is claiming he had to blow up Obamacare to fix the U.S.’s healthcare 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, which 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 healthcare.”
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.
Lawmakers led by Republican Senator Lamar Alexander and Democrat Patty Murray have been working across the aisle to try to stabilize the health law, chiefly to avoid big premium increases after Republican repeal attempts failed. Trump touted efforts by lawmakers to forge a deal on Monday.
“We’ll have a short term fix with Republicans and Democrats getting together,” Trump said.
But consumers will start to enroll in coverage for next year in two weeks, so the window for fixes for 2018 has likely closed. Insurers are increasing premiums in many states in part to offset the end of the payments, which compensate them for providing poor people with lower out-of-pocket costs.
Trump said he’ll still push for a full repeal of Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law using the budget process known as reconciliation. That would enable Republicans in the Senate to pass bills with 51 votes, rather than 60, though it limits the scope of their action. He said that would probably take place in March or April.
He said the plan would likely include “block granting the money back to the states—which does seem to make sense, the states running it, because it’s a smaller government that can be more individually sensitive.”
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