(Adds details on letter sent to Trump and background)
WASHINGTON, April 12 U.S. President Donald Trump
told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he might consider
withholding billions of dollars of Obamacare payments to health
insurers to force Democrats back to the negotiating table on
Insurers and major medical groups have warned that not
funding the payments, called cost-sharing reduction subsidies,
which help cover out-of-pocket medical expenses for low-income
Americans, could wreak havoc in the individual insurance
markets. Trump told The Wall Street Journal that by withholding
the payments, Democrats will call him to negotiate.
Major medical and insurance groups penned a letter to Trump
on Wednesday urging him to maintain funding for the subsidies,
which amount to about $7 billion a year and are paid directly to
insurers. They help cover premiums, deductibles and other
medical expenses for about 7 million people who purchase health
insurance on the individual health insurance market.
House of Representatives Republicans sued the Obama
administration for funding the subsidies, which they argue have
to be appropriated by Congress. A federal judge in May 2016
ruled in favor of the Republicans, prompting an appeal by the
Obama administration. The case is pending in the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Major insurers, including Humana Inc and Aetna
, have left or announced their intention to leave the
Obamacare exchanges, citing multi-million-dollar losses and
patient populations that are far costlier and sicker than they
expected. They warned that withholding the subsidies would
destabilize the market further and leave millions of consumers
with little or no choice in picking a health insurance plan.
(Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and