U.S. freezes payments to ACA insurers with sicker patients

Report: WH Suspends $10.4B in Obamacare Insurer Payments

Trump administration halts billions in insurance payments under Obamacare

Once again, the Trump administration has taken an axe to the Affordable Care Act, temporarily suspending a program that was set to pay out $10.4 billion to insurers for covering high-risk individuals past year.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that oversees the program, cited a recent federal court decision that found the formula for calculating the risk adjustment payments to be flawed. The government collects the money from health insurers with relatively healthy enrollees, who cost less to insure.

The administration is taking legal steps to challenge the ruling in New Mexico, says Levitt.

One of the great ironies of the Affordable Care Act is that progressives wanted to stick it to the insurers and instead have enriched them with new business. "It will allow more companies to get into the insurance market".

However, the trade group America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) said in a statement that the recent move would lead to uncertainty and increase premiums, putting the burden on small businesses and consumers.

Democrats say that the cuts are more evidence of Trump officials sabotaging the health law.

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"We are very discouraged by the new market disruption brought about by the decision to freeze risk adjustment payments", AHIP stated.

The president last fall also issued an executive order to try to make it easier for individuals and small businesses to buy health plans that cost less than ACA coverage because they cover fewer medical services and bypass the law's rules meant to protect people from old insurance practices in which companies had charged higher prices to women, older people, and those with preexisting medical conditions. It added that the move comes at a critical time when insurance providers are developing premiums for 2019 and states are reviewing rates.

In the MA case, however, a federal judge upheld the Obamacare formula, the Journal reports.

The federal court ruling prevents the agency, which administers the Obamacare risk-adjustment program, from making further collections or payments, including those for the 2017 benefit year, until the litigation is resolved, the agency said. The left is complaining that HHS halted the payments too casually, but on all the evidence the Trump Administration is trying to abide by the ruling while the courts resolve the dispute.

Insurance is normally based on risk, with premiums costing more for clients who are expected to require more healthcare services.

"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. Following the decision, CMS asked the court to reconsider its ruling.

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