The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Tuesday that premiums for many Americans would go up by 20 percent in 2018, should President Donald Trump follow through on his threats to stop paying the Affordable Care Act’s cost-sharing subsidies to insurance companies.
The subsidies allow insurance companies to reduce costs for low-income Americans who rely on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Following the Republican party’s failure to pass a bill repealing the healthcare law, Trump has said he may end the payments in order to allow the ACA to collapse.
According to the nonpartisan CBO, doing so would seriously hurt people who rely on the plans covered by the law and harm the U.S. economy as well. The loss of the $7 billion payments would cause the federal deficit to rise by $6 billion in just one year, and $195 billion over the next decade.
Low- and middle-income Americans would have to pay an average of 25 percent more for their premiums within the next three years, the analysis found. And more Americans would find themselves living in areas with no marketplace health insurance options, as many insurers are likely to pull out of the system. While less than one-half of a percent of people are currently without marketplace insurers in their area, that number would go up to five percent in 2018, with one million people losing their insurance.
As Common Dreams reported last week, Trump’s repeated threats to cut off funding of the subsidies has already caused some insurers to warn about premium increases for 2018.
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Andy Slavitt, who served as Acting Administrator for Medicare and Medicaid under President Barack Obama, called the potential impact on Americans “devastating” and tweeted that the CBO’s analysis leaves Trump with no choice but to continue the payments.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities agreed, with vice president for health policy Edwin Park writing on the group’s website, “The CBO found that stopping the CSR payments would immediately undercut the individual market’s continued progress towards financial health and stability. The Trump Administration should thus eliminate the uncertainty and pledge to continue the payments on a permanent basis.”
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