President Donald Trump signed an executive order relating to the Affordable Care Act that immediately discontinues billions of dollars in payments key to the law.
According to a statement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the cost-sharing reductions (CSR) payments are being discontinued “immediately” through Trump’s new order.
This year, those CSR payments are worth an estimated $7 billion.
It’s unclear how much of that $7 billion would go directly to Washington state, but the Washington Health Benefit Exchange this year reported that more than 1.7 million state residents accessed 2017 health coverage through the state marketplace.
In response, Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said the executive order puts forth “misguided and simplistic solutions to fix a complex problem” that “ignores the reality of how insurance works.”
“It also almost guarantees the eventual collapse of our health insurance markets across the country,” he said.
Earlier this year, Kreidler said that Washington is joining 14 other states and the District of Columbia to support the preservation of CSR payments.
Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the Democratic Party’s ranking member on the Senate Health Committee, said the executive order intentionally undermines the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and that it “will force patients across the country to pay more for their care, lose quality coverage options, and find themselves with surprise medical bills when they can least afford it.”
Murray has been working across the aisle in the senate with Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander on a bipartisan proposal offering short-term solutions aiming to stabilize the ACA.
Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) also issued a statement opposing the executive order, saying, “President Trump is doubling down on throwing insurance markets into chaos.”
Conversely, Roger Stark, a health care policy analyst with the conservative Washington Policy Center, said the executive order is a “start at correcting the onerous, predictable problems with Obamacare. Key pieces of the executive order that Stark notes in a blog include the increased use of association health plans (AHP) and an extension on the time limit of temporary health insurance plans.
More information on further implementation of the executive order and what’s next for Washington’s state exchange is still to come.