President Donald Trump is ending important subsidies that are helping to support the Affordable Care Act.
Trump has repeatedly threatened to stop the payments — worth an estimated $7 billion this year — which are made directly to insurance companies to help cover out-of-pocket medical expenses for low-income Americans enrolled in individual healthcare plans under the Affordable Care Act, commonly know as Obamacare.
Here's what the White House said on the subsidies:
Based on guidance from the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services has concluded that there is no appropriation for cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies under Obamacare. In light of this analysis, the Government cannot lawfully make the cost-sharing reduction payments. The United States House of Representatives sued the previous administration in Federal court for making these payments without such an appropriation, and the court agreed that the payments were not lawful. The bailout of insurance companies through these unlawful payments is yet another example of how the previous administration abused taxpayer dollars and skirted the law to prop up a broken system. Congress needs to repeal and replace the disastrous Obamacare law and provide real relief to the American people.
Republicans have repeatedly attempted to repeal President Barack Obama's signature health-care bill, but have not yet succeeded.
The Congressional Budget Office in August estimated that cutting off the subsidies would increase premiums for the most popular types of Obamacare plans by 20 percent on average above already projected rate hikes.
The CBO also estimated that such a move would increase the federal budget deficit by $194 million over the next decade.
That increase reflects the fact that, despite the federal government saving billions of dollars each year from cutting off the subsidies, the government would, on the other hand, have to give Obamacare customers higher subsides for their bigger premiums.
Earlier Thursday, Trump signed a new executive order aimed at expanding health-coverage options and reducing costs for millions of Americans — an order that Obamacare defenders fear will damage gains made under that health-care law.
—Reuters contributed to this report.