Mere days after the Senate failed to approve any significant action on a possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump is threatening to cut government payments to insurers unless Congress acts quickly.
The commander-in-chief posted the public threat on Twitter over the weekend, writing, “If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!”
The terse Tweet, coupled with spurious capital letters, is indicative of the President’s mounting frustration with a Republican-led legislature that’s failed to deliver on one of its longest-running promises: replacing or outright appealing Obamacare.
Reuters reports that the fit of outrage appeared to be targeted at the approximately $8 billion in ‘cost-sharing reduction subsidies the federal government pays to insurers to lower the price of health coverage for low-income Americans.’
The outlet took the ‘second part to be a threat to end the employer contribution for Congress members and their staffs, who were moved from the normal federal employee healthcare benefits program onto Obamacare insurance exchanges as part of the 2010 healthcare law.’
Several attempts by the House to forge a viable replacement for the Affordable Care Act ended in failure before conservatives came together to pass a quickly cobbled-together bill.
If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2017
Once received by the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell worked tirelessly to resolve the differences fragmenting his party.
The Senate’s revised version of the proposed House legislation was crafted behind closed doors, prompting criticizing even from some Republicans. A Congressional Budget Office estimate of an Obamacare repeal delivered dismal figures, leading several right-wing senators, like Susan Collins of Maine, to defect from the party line.
While McConnell said he’d focus on new legislative priorities for the upcoming week, President Trump still took to Twitter to beat the war drum.
“Unless the Republican Senators are total quitters, Repeal & Replace is not dead! Demand another vote before voting on any other bill!” the president wrote late Saturday evening.
Trump’s threat to pull subsidies falls in line with what he’s said about Obamacare in the past – that the program would collapse in its entirety whenever federal payments to insurers stopped.
If he followed through on the threat, the ramifications for low-income Americans could be profound. Premiums and the cost of coverage would likely rise to such an extent that would be unable to afford certain treatments.
House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) cautioned the president against use healthcare dollars as a political stick.
“If the president refuses to make the cost sharing reduction payments, every expert agrees that premium will go up and health care will be more expensive for millions of Americans,” Schumer wrote Saturday in a statement. “The president ought to stop playing politics with people’s lives and health care, start leading and finally begin acting presidential.”