ASHINGTON — The White House on Wednesday pledged to continue payments critical to the success of Affordable Care Act exchanges, Politico reports. The pledge will come as a relief to insurers and providers after the administration’s earlier indication that it might withhold payments as a bargaining chip in this week’s budget negotiations.
The “cost-sharing subsidies,” which congressional Republicans have long contended the Department of Health and Human Services is not authorized to make, subsidize insurers who offer lower premiums on state exchanges.
A federal judge sided with Republicans in 2016, saying the executive branch could not continue the payments without an appropriation from Congress. The payments were allowed to continue while the Obama administration appealed the ruling.
Earlier this month Trump suggested that the fate of the subsidies could be a bargaining chip to bring Democrats to the table on health care. Democrats had warned that that threat could, in turn, derail budget talks and lead to a federal shutdown once current funding expires on Friday.
Now, with top-to-bottom Republican control of the federal government, the party appears to have reversed its stance rather than risk shouldering the blame for skyrocketing premiums and an increasingly unstable market.
It’s unclear whether the White House is making a temporary or long-term commitment to fund the subsidies.
Republican aides on the Hill on Wednesday indicated a one-week continuing resolution to fund the government was still likely.
Meanwhile, a modified attempt at repealing the Affordable Care Act appeared to be gaining traction among the most conservative Republicans. Some GOP moderates continued to express doubt, however, and House Speaker Paul Ryan indicated that the body would vote on an ACA repeal bill only once Republicans were sure it could pass.