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Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Medical | By Garry George

Trump administration takes another swipe at 'Obamacare'

Trump administration takes another swipe at 'Obamacare'

The new reduction of help for navigators, announced late Tuesday afternoon by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, fits within a pattern of moves by the administration to weaken the sweeping health-care law that President Trump has vowed to demolish.

Insurersrely on the funding, which serves as a backstop for those who wind up with a high share of costly enrollees. The permanent program was meant to reduce the incentive for health insurers to cherry-pick healthy members. To do that, the government collects money from health insurers with enrollees who were healthier and as a result "cost less to insure". About $10.4 billion was slated to be transferred past year. "It will undermine Americans' access to affordable care, particularly for those who need medical care the most". In 2013, CMS finalized a risk adjustment methodology for states that uses the statewide average premium in order to maintain a budget-neutral program.

It could encourage more insurers to bow out of the Affordable Care Act.

While imperfect, the risk adjustment program "has helped promote market stability over the past five years", Wehrle said. Frank Pallone called the cuts more "sabotage" from the administration. Another court in MA had upheld the program in January. "It's time for the navigator program to evolve, which is why we are announcing a new direction for the program today", said CMS administrator Seema Verma.

"As a result of this litigation, billions of dollars in risk adjustment payments and collections are now on hold", she said. The Maryland Insurance Administration has a hearing scheduled for July 31.

However, the trade group America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) said in a statement that the recent move would lead to uncertainty and increase premiums, putting the burden on small businesses and consumers.

Reuters' characterization of the move is that "President Donald Trump's administration has used its regulatory powers to undermine Obamacare after the Republican-controlled Congress previous year failed to repeal and replace the law".

The decision comes after a March 2018 court ruling that found the formula for calculating risk adjustment payments was "arbitrary and capricious". The mandate was created to stabilize the health insurance market by encouraging younger and healthier Americans to sign up for insurance, and the repeal could consequently have the opposite effect. The fund would be separate from the federal risk adjustment payments and could allow the insurers to reduce their requested rate increases by as much as 30 percent.

We're all getting priced out of the health insurance market and the combination of these actions will raise premiums for comprehensive health insurance even more, especially for those who have pre-existing conditions.

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