CBO: $194 Billion Deficit Increase If Key ACA Subsidies End In 2017

Health Insurers Get More Time to Calculate Increases for 2018

Now the law requires insurers to hold down deductibles and co-payments for people who receive coverage through the Obamacare marketplaces and whose incomes fall below a threshold of roughly two-and-a-half times the federal poverty level. So far it has paid the subsidies on a month-to-month basis. President Donald Trump has threatened to cut off the payments to force Democrats to negotiate changes to the program, though lawmakers, insurers and regulators have called on the administration to continue the payments.

Analysts said the number of uninsured would increase by 1 million in 2018, mainly due to insurers dropping out of the marketplace. The panel will begin hearings on stabilizing the marketplace the first week of September. The outcome is largely in the hands of the Trump administration, which has the power to continue or halt the stream of money.

Eliminating the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing reduction payments will cause premiums to increase by 20 percent next year and may cause some insurers to withdraw from the exchanges, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office.

A White House spokesman says Trump is "working with his staff and his Cabinet to consider the issues raised by the CSR payments".

Trump labels the CSR subsidies as "bailouts" for insurance companies. As it is, some markets in the nation already have no insurers. CSR subsidies help lower-to-moderate income people purchase more affordable coverage; 57 percent of those enrolled in the ACA exchanges benefit from this type of subsidy- that's 5.9 million people.

It is unclear whether the federal government played a role in providing incentives to insurers to offer plans in bare counties, many of which were at risk because Anthem Inc, one of the largest remaining Obamacare insurers, pared back its offerings in several states, said Cox.

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Ending cost-sharing reduction payments could cause insurers to abandon the individual market in counties that contain 5% of the USA population, according to a new projection from the Congressional Budget Office. In other insurance news, a Colorado group is asking state officials to restrain premium increases, and Reuters reports that some investors are turning cool on insurance stocks.

But the administration has continued paying the subsidies month to month as it waited for Congress to overhaul the Affordable Care Act. Congress could also pass legislation saying the payments should be made. If the Trump administration decides not to appeal the case, the subsidies will end.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) suggested that the payments for this year will total $7 billion.

House Republicans trying to thwart the ACA sued the Obama administration in federal court in Washington, arguing that the law lacked specific language appropriating the cost-sharing subsidies.

The Senate Health, Education, Labour, and Pensions committee plans to consider a bipartisan bill when it returns after the August recess that would, in part, fund the CSRs for two years.

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