According to a Politico report, President Donald Trump told advisers that he favors ending Obamacare subsidies to bring Democrats to the negotiating table for a more comprehensive deal on repeal.
Trump said that ending the Obamacare subsidies will force Democrats to negotiate on an Obamacare replacement. Some White House advisers worry that the move may backfire politically if Americans lose health insurance or if people experience spikes in insurance costs.
Health insurers have pressed President Trump for months on clarity on whether the White House will provide subsidies to health insurers. Estimated at $7 billion, the Obamacare subsidies go to insurers reduce deductibles and other costs for low-income consumers.
President Trump has previously expressed his desire to end the Obamacare subsidies. In April, the president said, “Obamacare is dead next month if it doesn’t get that money.” He continued, “I haven’t made my viewpoint clear yet. I don’t want people to get hurt … What I think should happen and will happen is the Democrats will start calling me and negotiating.”
Health Secretary Tom Price remains cautious about eliminating the health care subsidies. Price argues that doing so would discourage insurers from participating in the Obamacare exchanges next year, and might destabilize an already crumbling Obamacare exchange market.
Conservatives argue that Obama lacked the authority to dole out billions of dollars of insurance subsidies, arguing that Congress never appropriated money for that purpose. Under former Speaker John Boehner, House Republicans sued the Obama administration to prevent it from doling out the subsidies.
In 2016 a federal judge ruled against the Obama administration but allowed the Obama White House to continue providing Obamacare subsidies while the administration appealed the decision. Republicans sought to delay the court case after Trump was elected president.
The president will have to inform the U.S. Court of Appeals how he wants to resolve the House Republicans’ lawsuit. The White House can also ask for a 90-day hold on the lawsuit.
In a statement, the White House told Congress it will continue the payments through May. However, the administration has not made any commitments beyond that.
The statement read, “No final decisions have been made at this time, and all options are on the table.”
After the American Health Care Act failed to garner enough votes in the House, Trump tweeted that Democrats will come around to make a deal with him once Obamacare implodes.
The Democrats will make a deal with me on healthcare as soon as ObamaCare folds – not long. Do not worry, we are in very good shape!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2017