Petulant popular vote loser Donald Trump does not like losing. At all. He’s on day four of a tear against the Senate for not repealing Obamacare. On Sunday, Trump tweeted that there wouldn’t be any more bailouts for insurance companies OR Congress ever again, and he’s back on that theme Monday morning.
One of those things he can do—he can seriously destabilize the health insurance markets by refusing to pay cost-sharing reductions (CSRs), payments the government makes to insurers that help reduce deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for low-income people. The other thing he can’t do—he can’t take away Congress’s health insurance. Only they can do that, and it doesn’t seem too likely that they will, even in response to the mighty tweets of the stubby-fingered one.
The CSRs, however, is a big issue that has the insurance industry pretty well freaked out. Trump has been threatening the month-to-month payments every month. Without them, insurers would likely leave the Obamacare exchanges and potentially the individual insurance market. This is really bad business strategy from the nation’s “CEO,” say the insurers.
Meg Murray is CEO of the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, a trade group of safety net health plans, many of which offer coverage in the exchanges. She said she is “concerned” many of her group’s members will drop out of the exchanges if cost-sharing payments are nixed.
The odds of Trump undermining the exchanges by cutting off the cost-sharing payments “just increased dramatically,” said Stefanie Miller, an investment analyst at Height Securities — especially with Trump’s newest shot on Twitter.
The only answer is a Congress pissed off enough at Trump’s threats against them to retaliate by making funding for the CSRs explicit under the law, something they were reluctant to do under the Obama administration because politics. But the politics have changed dramatically when it comes to Obamacare. Republicans own it now, completely. If it collapses in the next year, Republicans are going to be the ones held accountable at the polling booth.