Trump Will Subsidize Obamacare ... For Now

The subsidies will total $7 billion for 2017.

With the Republican Obamacare alternative still missing in action, Obamacare's cost continues to skyrocket, and President Trump must again subsidize insurers for the month of August to help shoulder the Affordable Care Act's incredible financial burden.

One of Obamacare's provisions requires the federal government to subsidize insurers with something called cost-sharing reduction payments (CSRs), to help with the law's mandate for reduced deductibles and co-payments for low-income buyers of health insurance, which cost insurers millions.

Though President Trump has threatened to end these subsidies, even if the AHCA collapses, the mounting pressure from insurers on congress asking for certainty has put the President in a tough bind.

Trump has been extending the subsidies on a month-by-month basis, and the White House says there is no guarantee the subsidies will continue for much longer. Insurers have grown nervous at the prospect of operating without these federal funds, but as the White House points out, just these Obamacare subisides will cost taxpayers $7 billion in 2017.

But if the subsidies stop, Obamacare's customers will pay the price — literally. According to analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, premium prices for mid-level insurance buyers will increase 20% in 2018 should the subsidies end.

More from The Hill:

Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has said he would like to include funding for CSRs in a bipartisan, short-term stabilization bill for ObamaCare. The panel will begin hearings on stabilizing the marketplace the first week of September.

Additionally, an update is due Sunday in a court case that went against the administration. Trump could drop the appeal, which could halt the payments. The case has been delayed for months, and it’s possible another delay could occur.

Plans to "repeal and replace Obamacare" remain shelved in congress for the moment, though a recent article for The Daily Signal profiled a new strategy from the House Freedom Caucus to force a floor vote on a repeal bill, similar to a bill passed in 2015 that President Obama vetoed.

If legislators can acquire 218 signatures on a "discharge petition," they can bring the bill out of committee without a committee report or any further consideration, and place it on the floor for a vote. The measure, they claim, is likely to pass the House of Representatives, at least.

The 2015 bill, passed by the House and Senate but vetoed by President Barack Obama, contained repeal of key Obamacare provisions, including the expansion of Medicaid benefits and almost all of the health care law’s tax increases.

The bill also repealed the law’s insurance mandates for individuals and employers as well and defunded Planned Parenthood.

Some Republicans have expressed optimism of the plan's success. Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the largest caucus of GOP lawmakers in the House, said the discharge bill has a real shot.

“I have no problem leading … as we continue to put pressure on the Senate from every angle possible,” Walker said. “And hopefully at some point, this could free things up enough; there’s enough pressure coming from both Republicans in Congress and people back home to get this thing done.”

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