The Trump administration’s recent decision to abruptly end a provision of the Affordable Care Act that helps insurers lower out-of-pocket medical fees for millions of Americans has spurred some states to consider taking legal action.
Attorneys general from across the country have said they plan to sue the Trump administration in order to keep money flowing to their states.
“Hundreds of thousands of New York families rely on the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies for their health care — and again and again, President Trump has threatened to cut off these subsidies to undermine our healthcare system and force Congress to the negotiating table. That’s unacceptable,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) in a press release late Thursday night, following the administration’s decision to cut off cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurers selling Obamacare coverage.
“I will not allow President Trump to once again use New York families as political pawns in his dangerous, partisan campaign to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act at any cost.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) also tweeted the state’s intention to go after the administration.
— Xavier Becerra (@AGBecerra) October 13, 2017
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear (D) wrote in a statement that any legal action the state takes will have nothing to do with the president, but rather so the “federal government [can] keep its promises and protect the health and prosperity of our Kentucky families.”
Beshear says nearly 88,000 Kentuckians bought insurance through the Obamacare exchange and this recent move by the Trump administration could raise their rates by 20 percent. According to the the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, more than 40,000 Kentuckians will no longer get help paying for their insurance.
The government payments to insurers for these vital subsidies, which are used to offset medical costs by lower and middle income families, were seen by the Trump administration and many Republicans as unlawful.
In a statement confirming the administration’s plans to drop cost sharing subsidies, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the CSR payments “the bailout of insurance companies through unlawful payments.”
The White House confirms it is ending the cost-sharing subsidy payments for ACA insurers that were designed to keep premiums low. pic.twitter.com/zj5qBW19xD
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 13, 2017
CSR payments were the subject of a lawsuit filed by House Republicans during the Obama administration, which House Republicans ultimately won. The Obama administration appealed and continued making the payments, which cost an estimated $7 billion per year. Now that Trump has dropped the appeal and plans to stop making the payments entirely, the move could trigger lawsuits from insurers who relied on CSR payments for funding.
Update (5:30 PM):
Nineteen Democratic attorneys general announced a lawsuit against the administration’s decision to end CSR payments.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra led the coalition, which includes: Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn, District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, and Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
Executive Director of the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) released a statement Friday evening:
“Our Democratic Attorneys General will fight this latest attempt by the White House to gut the health and well-being of our country. Too many families and individuals risk losing adequate healthcare if these critical cost-sharing subsidies under the ACA are removed. Putting vulnerable lives at risk for political gain is unacceptable—and our Democratic Attorneys General will fight for quality and affordable healthcare for all.”