Trump admin temporarily halting some payments under Obamacare program

President Donald Trump speaks about health care from the White House in Washington. The Trump administration says it’s freezing payments under an Obamacare program that protects insurers with sicker patients

President Donald Trump speaks about health care from the White House in Washington. The Trump administration says it’s freezing payments under an Obamacare program that protects insurers with sicker patients

The Trump administration announced Saturday that it will temporarily halt billions of dollars in payments under the Affordable Care Act's risk adjustment program, a move that could shake up insurance markets. It added that the move comes at a critical time when insurance providers are developing premiums for 2019 and states are reviewing rates.

Insurance stocks may be a focus in Monday morning's trading. Small health plans also have far less capital than more established insurers to comfortably make large risk-adjustment payments.

The Republican-led Congress failed a year ago to repeal and replace the ACA.

"We urge the Trump administration to back off of this unsafe and destabilizing plan, and instead begin working on bipartisan solutions to make coverage more affordable", said Brad Woodhouse, the executive director of Protect Our Care, a progressive group that supports Obamacare.

State officials, with bipartisan support from both Gov. Larry Hogan and the General Assembly, asked the federal agency this spring for permission to establish a reinsurance program that would create a $462 million fund for insurers to cover the most expensive claims.

The mainstream media report offered more criticism from supporters of the Affordable Care Act. Another court in MA had upheld the program in January.

This follows a reduction announced by the CMS last August from $62.5 million, along with an even bigger cut to advertising for enrollment, and represents the latest in a series of moves to weaken the ACA by the administration of President Donald Trump. As a result of this litigation, billions of dollars in risk adjustment payments and collections are now on hold.

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"We were disappointed by the court's recent ruling", Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers the program, told The Wall Street Journal in a statement.

The outcome of the decision could send premiums soaring and insurers running for the exits on the ACA exchanges.

CMS provided a timeline, noting that after the February 28 decision by the New Mexico federal court, it filed a motion for reconsideration, and on June 21 the court held a hearing on it. CMS is waiting for the court's ruling, it said.

A professor who follows Obamacare said it is unclear if the payments' suspension will result in higher premiums.

The payments can be controversial, Dai said. In Maryland, Kaiser usually ends up paying CareFirst.

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