The president finds it extremely difficult to support a measure that would allow for large numbers of Americans to hold onto affordable health coverage.
Last week, he announced that his administration was ending cost-sharing reduction, or CSR, payments that allow insurance companies to provide low-cost plans to low income Americans. Following this week’s announcement of a deal struck by Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray to save the CSR payments, the president seemed open to the idea of restoring the payments — at first.
While speaking at a press conference on Tuesday alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Trump seemed to express support for the deal, claiming to have been involved in its crafting.
He told reporters:
‘We have been involved, and this is a short-term deal because we think ultimately block grants going to the states is going to be the answer… Lamar has been working very, very hard with … his colleagues on the other side, and, Patty Murray is one of them in particular, and they’re coming up, and they’re fairly close to a short-term solution. The solution will be for about a year or two years, and it will get us over this intermediate hump.’
His comments made it sound like he was supportive of the measure, but later in the day, while speaking to the Heritage Foundation, he made it clear that his position is not outright support of the deal.
He’s been known to cave to the pressure of his core base of far-right supporters, so that could explain the shift.
‘While I commend the bipartisan work done by Sens. Alexander and Murray, and I do commend it, I continue to believe Congress must find a solution to the Obamacare mess instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies.’
Remember, the CSR payments aren’t just bailouts for insurance companies, no matter how many times that the president repeats that line. They allow for large numbers of Americans to have health care they wouldn’t have otherwise.
The deal still has a long way to go before becoming the law of the land, so it’s not even clear that the president’s show of tentative opposition to it will ever be significant. The senators behind the deal in question have been working on it for weeks, but the pressure to come up with something intensified after the president’s abrupt announcement he was ending the CSR payments.
Trump put his unease on display yet again with a Wednesday morning tweet, writing that he “can never support bailing out ins companies who have made a fortune with ObamaCare.”
Even if the senators’ deal does get passed, that doesn’t mean that the full effects of the president’s abrupt decision to cut CSR payments would be averted.
Open enrollment under ObamaCare for 2018 starts on November 1, and that doesn’t leave enough time for insurers to re-adjust their rates yet again. Insurance rates under ObamaCare had already been on their way upward thanks to the president’s public toying with the idea of ending the CSR payments.
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