Trump just made a move to save Obamacare -- for now

The White House and Congress are expected to file a motion Monday to delay a court hearing on a vital funding element of the Affordable Care Act, the law also known as Obamacare.

The Washington Examiner and Politico reported on Monday that the two sides will ask for a 90-day delay on an appeal in the lawsuit known as House v. Price. The lawsuit centres on the executive branch’s funding of so-called cost sharing reduction (CSR) payments.

The payments help to offset costs incurred by insurers to provide low-income Americans with affordable healthcare coverage. Without them, health policy experts say, premiums for the 2018 plan year would skyrocket above current projections, and insurers would likely ditch many of Obamacare’s individual insurance exchanges.

In 2015, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives sued the Obama administration, arguing that the payments had not been appropriated by Congress and were therefore illegal. A lower court ruled in the House’s favour in 2016, but the ruling was appealed by the Obama administration.

The move is another in a series of delays by the Trump administration as it decides whether or not to continue the payments. According to reports last Friday, Trump told advisers he was in favour of ending the payments and dropping the case. Many other White House officials are wary of that idea, and a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that a majority of Americans would place most blame for healthcare problems — such as rising premiums — on Trump.

Additionally, on Thursday, 15 states and Washington, DC, filed a motion to intervene in the case to continue the appeal even if the Trump administration decided to drop the fight.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the decision to continue the funding showed the administration knows that continuing the payments is the right thing to do. He criticised the uncertainty from Trump on their future.

“Unfortunately, by kicking the can down the road once again, the administration is continuing to sow uncertainty in the markets that will hurt millions of Americans,” Schumer said in a statement. “Instead of hemming and hawing, they ought to step up to the plate and say once and for all that they will make these payments permanently, which help millions of Americans pay less for their health care.”

While the delay will move the next update for the case to mid-August, the deadline for insurers to submit their 2018 plans for Obamacare’ exchanges in most states is June 21.

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