President Donald Trump personally dictated an fiery rebuttal statement to a recent story in The New York Times on the administration’s position on the Affordable Care Act’s cost-sharing payments, according to a report from Politico.
The statement, which was delivered to Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, was then attributed to an HHS spokesperson, the report said.
The ACA’s cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments help subsidise insurers who offer low out-of-pocket cost plans to poorer Americans.
House Republicans sued the Obama administration in 2014, saying that the payments were illegal since they were not approved by Congress. The court agreed, but allowed the payments to continue as the Obama administration filed an appeal.
Health policy analysts worried that the Trump administration would drop the appeal, ending the CSR payments and causing insurers to leave the market. This could cause costs to rise and effectively allow Trump to help Obamacare’s exchanges collapse.
On Monday, The New York Times reported that the Trump administration would continue to pay the CSR payments to insurers while the lawsuit was pending, giving some clarity to the issue until the next court date in May.
On Tuesday, HHS responded in a statement. It called the Times report incorrect, said Obamacare was failing, and attacked Democrats for not working with Trump and Republicans on healthcare. Here’s the statement in full:
“The administration is currently deciding its position on the matter. We have not been contacted by Democrats to save Obamacare, perhaps because they consider Obamacare to be a losing cause. Democrats need to help solve this failed Obamacare plan. The report was in reference to the current status of the lawsuit and is not an indication of what will happen in the future. No decision has been made about how the administration will proceed.”
The statement was attributed to HHS spokesperson Alleigh Marré.
Trump was concerned that alleviating some of the concern from Democrats over the CSR payments would make them less likely to come to the table to negotiate on healthcare, the report said.
While the White House typically sets the message, Politico said that is is “unusual” for a statement from an executive agency to be personally crafted directly by the president.
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