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Monday, October 18, 2021

States take Trump to court on healthcare cuts

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A man looks over the Affordable Care Act signup page on the website in New York. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

The top lawyers for 19 states will urge a federal judge Monday to force President Donald Trump’s administration to pay health care subsidies he abruptly cut off earlier this month.

State attorneys general, led by California Democrat Xavier Becerra, argue the monthly payments are required under former President Barack Obama’s health care law, and cutting them off will harm consumers.

Trump’s Health and Human Services Department announced earlier this month that the administration will cut off payments known as cost-sharing reduction. Trump has said Obama’s law is imploding and has criticized the subsidies as insurance company bailouts. The White House says the government cannot legally continue paying the subsidies because there is no formal authorization from Congress.

However, the administration had been making monthly payments even as Trump threated to cut them off to force Democrats to negotiate over health care. A bipartisan effort in Congress to restore the payments has run into opposition.

The payments reimburse insurers for the costs of lowering copays and deductibles, which they’re required to do for low-income customers who buy coverage through the health care marketplaces created by Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

The states argue that the Trump administration violated a law requiring government agencies to obey existing statutes and follow orderly and transparent procedures.

“He’s threatening access for millions of Americans to decent quality health care, and it’s time for him to stop playing this game because for too many people it’s not a game,” Becerra said last week.

The states are asking U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, an Obama appointee, to force the Trump administration to continue making monthly payments while the case is litigated, which will take months.

Democratic attorneys general have forcefully pushed back against Trumps agenda in the federal courts, looking to stymie the president’s attempts to roll back Obama’s policies on the environment, health care and immigration.

The states joining California in the lawsuit are: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, along with the District of Columbia.


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