During an appearance on this week’s edition of “Fox News Sunday,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said that President Donald J. Trump would decide this week if his administration will continue to make cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies.
The payments, called CSRs, subsidize insurers for reducing co-pays and deductibles for low-income Obamacare customers.
When asked by moderator Chris Wallace if Trump was going to cut off those payments, Conway said, “He’s going to make that decision this week and that’s a decision that only he can make.” Here’s the exchange from the Fox News transcript:
WALLACE: Is the present going to cut off the CSR payments, the out-of-pocket payments? He can do it starting next month, this week.
CONWAY: Yes, he can. He can — he’s going to make that decision this week, and that’s the decision that only he can make.
But let’s go back to what we are really talking about here. When he said yesterday in the same tweet, I believe, about the bailout — the insurance companies’ bailout from members of Congress, he’s talked about the CSR payments. He’s also talking about this really sweet deal that members of Congress and their staffers have where they are not beholden to the same health healthcare that so many Americans say is unaffordable and unsustainable and untenable.
And this is exactly what so many Americans hate about Washington, D.C. They feel like they have their nose pressed up against the glass, peering into the special interests, the swamp, these lobbyists, the folks on Capitol Hill. They want people to live under the same rules they do. And, frankly, if people had the same rules on Capitol Hill, maybe they would have a stronger taste of what it feels like to be in a short — what it feels like —
WALLACE: Kellyanne —
CONWAY: — to have to choose between paying your premiums and paying your grocery bill.
President Obama’s CSR payments have been found unconstitutional. On May 12, 2016, United States District Judge Rosemary Collyer of the federal district court for the District of Columbia decided that the Obama administration could not constitutionally reimburse insurers for the costs they incur in fulfilling their ObamaCare obligation to reduce cost sharing because Congress had not appropriated money to cover the CSR payments.
As Timothy Jost explains, the lawsuit was an attempt by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to hold President Obama responsible for his abuses of presidential power. On July 30, 2014, the House voted to file a lawsuit challenging the President’s implementation of the law. The complaint, filed on November 21, 2014, focused on two issues: the decision by the Obama administration in 2013 to delay the implementation of the employer mandate for a year, and the funding by the administration of the Affordable Care Act’s CSR payments, without an explicit appropriation.
Judge Collyer’s decision was a clear victory for the House of Representatives.
The Washington Examiner reports that President Trump has threatened to allow Obamacare to collapse and implode after Congress failed to pass legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. President Trump also said on Twitter that he wants the Senate to keep working on healthcare after Republicans were unable to get the votes for a “skinny repeal” bill last week.
As Conway told Wallace, President Trump isn’t willing to move on to other legislative priorities just yet:
CONWAY: The president will not accept those who said it’s, quote, time to move on. He wants to help the millions of Americans who have suffered with no coverage. They were lied to by the last president. They couldn’t keep the doctor. They couldn’t keep their plan.
We’ve met with the ObamaCare victims at the White House several times now. They’re real people, they’re suffering.
And when he talks about the 51 votes, the president is basically making the case that so many of the components of real healthcare reform, Chris, requires 60 votes — the drug pricing, the selling of insurance across state lines, the associated health plans that allow those who don’t get their health insurance to the employers like you and I do, or to government benefits, who have been left out because the premiums are too high.
Premiums have doubled. We see in some states that there are no insurers —
WALLACE: Let’s talk about that. Kellyanne —
CONWAY: So, he will. He will stick with it.
If President Trump refuses to continue Obama’s unconstitutional CSR payments, Obamacare will have even more problems.