Trump Administration to Continue Paying PPACA Subsidies––for Now

Commitment aimed at avoiding government shutdown

The White House has announced that President Trump’s administration would maintain critical funding for health plans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in a move to reduce the chances of a government shutdown, according to the Wall Street Journal.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) that the administration would keep making “cost-sharing reduction” (CSR) payments to insurers despite the lack of a formal appropriation for them in the April spending bill, a Pelosi aide told the Journal.

Coupled with the administration walking back its pursuit of funding for a wall along the Mexican border, the commitment removed two major hurdles to Democrats agreeing to legislation to keep the government operating until October 1.

In a written statement, a White House budget official confirmed that “although a final decision for how long has not yet been made, the administration will continue to pay CSRs.”

The payments reimburse insurers for lowering the deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance for approximately six million people who obtained insurance under the PPACA. They are controversial because Republicans contend that the Obama administration made them without authorization from Congress. In 2014, House Republicans filed a lawsuit to block them, and a U.S. District Court sided with their argument.

President Trump told the Journal in an interview two weeks ago that he wanted Congress to make the decision over the payments’ future and that if it were left to him, he would consider cutting them off.

Source: Wall Street Journal; April 26, 2017.