Insurers meet with Trump official to press for ObamaCare payments

Insurers meet with Trump official to press for ObamaCare payments
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Health insurance executives met with a top Trump administration health official on Tuesday to press for the continuation of key ObamaCare payments. 

In the meeting with insurers, Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, did not make any commitments on continuing the payments, sources said. She added that the insurers should also speak to Congress about the issue. 

Insurers have been pounding the drum for a firm promise on the ObamaCare payments, known as cost-sharing reductions (CSRs). President Trump has threatened to cancel the payments, potentially causing chaos in the insurance market, as a way to bring Democrats to the negotiating table. 

The payments reimburse insurers for giving discounted deductibles to low-income ObamaCare enrollees. Without the funds, insurers would have to spike premiums or drop out of the market altogether.

Democrats are demanding that the ObamaCare payments be appropriated in this month’s spending bill, which must be passed to prevent a government shutdown.

The fate of the payments is up in the air because House Republicans sued the Obama administration, arguing the payments were being made unconstitutionally, without a congressional appropriation. 

The meeting with Verma included a range of insurers, including Molina Healthcare and the trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). 

“We welcomed the chance to share perspectives on the value of coverage delivered to more than 70 million Americans through Medicare Advantage and Medicaid health plans, but reiterated our most pressing concern: the instability in the individual market created by the uncertainty of funding for the cost sharing reduction (CSR) program," AHIP said in a statement.  

The meeting also touched on other issues, including Medicare and Medicaid, but the CSR payments are insurers’ top priority.