For the past few months, the US has been in a state of intense debate over exactly what President Trump wants to accomplish for the healthcare system. His decision now to stop critical payments to insurance companies has put Congress in a position of new pressure, while also adding additional issues to necessary discussions which have to be held to prevent a government shutdown as the question of soaring premiums has to be addressed.
No more healthcare subsidies to insurance companies, Congress pressured
This move was announced Thursday night and has widespread implications. The announcement has already sparked off disorder in the insurance markets, with some insurers attempting to flee from the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, increasing the cost of financing for the federal government with some consumers being priced out of the market. He also signed another complimentary executive order by supporting the development of relatively lower cost insurance policies which are not subjected to the tedious and rigorous coverage standards of Affordable Care Act.
One day after, Trump tweeted that he was actually trying to bring the Democrats to the table for negotiation. He also kept insisting the the subsidies were helping the insurance companies to become very rich and wealthy. However, these are the same subsidies that are keeping insurance companies in the market (because profits exist), and currently help to offset the cost of out of pocket payments for medical services, especially for low income families. The companies have claimed that they would either increase premium or exit the marketplaces.
Division among the Republicans
The Republicans in Congress are currently split. Some worry that the new order would hurt the same people they are serving, while others are afraid of doing anything which suggest they want to support the healthcare system they promised to tear down. The Democrats are however, assured that the blame for any reduction in satisfaction for the Americans (through increased premiums, and reduced choices) will be borne by Republicans, who now lead the White House. A particularly noteworthy fact here is that millions will potentially lose their coverage, and many more have to pay for increase premiums.
Currently, approximately 7 million people benefit from the cost sharing subsidies. This new move could adversely affect the lives of about 7 million individuals. Republican Tom Reed offered a series of proposals to prop the insurance markets, which include funding the subsidies. The healthcare marketplace is destabilizing, with too many interconnected parts, and too many stakeholders each fighting for their own agenda. Reed further added on “If we stay where we are and do nothing, I think this is going to be a pox on all of our houses.”
Lawmakers are currently engaged in conversations and discussions on what are some of the best ways forward. However, doctors, insurers and even hospitals have came out and oppose Trump’s decision. Dr David O.Barbe, President of the American Medical Association said that “Our patients will ultimately pay the price,“. The current system is in a state of uncertainty now. Cost sharing reductions are required for low income families, to ensure that they have adequate health coverage. The way forward has serious implications for millions of people.