Massachusetts delegation to Trump: Keep health subsidies
By STEVE LeBLANC
Oct. 24, 2017
BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts' all-Democratic congressional delegation is sending President Donald Trump a letter criticizing him for ending health care subsidies and warning him that tens of thousands of Massachusetts residents could see their premiums spike as a result.
U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and all nine representatives from Massachusetts signed the letter dated Tuesday.
The lawmakers included a copy of a letter Republican Gov. Charlie Baker sent them last week urging Congress to adopt a bipartisan approach like an agreement negotiated by Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander and Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray.
In their letter, the lawmakers urged Trump to reverse his decision and support a bipartisan agreement.
"Your attempts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act have real consequences for families in Massachusetts and across the country," the lawmakers wrote, referring to former President Barack Obama's 2010 health care law.
"It is time for you to look beyond politics and support sensible, bipartisan efforts to reduce — not increase — health care costs for our constituents and all Americans. Reversing your decision to cut off these vital CSR payments should be your first step," they added.
CSR payments refer to the 2010 law's "cost-sharing reduction" payments made by the federal government directly to insurers to cover costs for people who obtain insurance through the Health Connector and have incomes under 250 percent of the federal poverty level — around $30,000 for an individual and $62,000 for a family of four.
Those payments help cover out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles, copayments and coinsurance. Massachusetts health officials estimate the federal government could pay $146 million in cost-sharing expenses in 2018 in the state without the change Trump wants.
Trump said Obama's law is imploding and he criticized the subsidies as insurance company bailouts. The White House said the government cannot legally continue paying the subsidies because there is no formal authorization from Congress.
Baker warned that Trump's decision to end cost-sharing reduction payments could result in about 80,000 residents seeing their premiums jump by up to 26 percent. Baker said he wants to protect the 257,000 individuals in Massachusetts who receive health care coverage through the state's health insurance exchange known as the Health Connector.
On Monday, attorneys general for 19 states — including Massachusetts Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey — urged a federal judge to force the Trump's administration to pay health care subsidies that he abruptly cut off earlier this month.