HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut’s attorney general joined a coalition of top state prosecutors Friday suing to block President Donald Trump from stopping billions of dollars in subsidy payments to insurers under the Obama-era health care law, calling the executive order “incredibly mean-spirited.”
While Democratic state politicians predicted skyrocketing insurance premiums for consumers who bought their coverage on the state’s insurance exchange, Jim Wadleigh, CEO of Access Health CT, said the most exchange customers will not be impacted. He said they qualify for premium tax credits that are not impacted by the Republican president’s executive order.
The order eliminates so-called cost-sharing subsidies paid to insurance carriers to help lower deductibles and copays of consumers with modest incomes.
“Customers eligible for financial help through premium tax credits will see very small increases to their proportion of the premium, and in some cases, their portion of premium may be smaller for next year,” said Wadleigh
He said about 25 percent of Access Health CT’s approximate 98,000 customers — mostly people who are not eligible for any financial help — may be more affected by premium increases.
About 42,000 of Access Health CT customers qualified for federal subsidies for copays and deductibles. More than 200,000 people in Connecticut have coverage through expanded eligibility for Medicaid.
On Friday, Connecticut’s Democratic Attorney General George Jepsen joined the attorneys general of California, Kentucky and Massachusetts in filing a lawsuit in California federal court seeking to stop Trump’s order. More states are expected to join the effort.
“President Trump’s latest action is incredibly mean-spirited,” said Jepsen, predicting higher premiums will force people relying on the exchanges for insurance to make “incredibly hard changes.” He said that could mean more uninsured patients seeking care at hospitals, creating more uncompensated care costs for states.
“It’s intended very clearly to destabilize Obamacare, explode Obamacare,” Jepsen said, referring to the federal Affordable Care Act.
Trump said Friday the subsidies are “almost a payoff” to insurance companies to lift their stock prices instead of helping low-income people afford their premiums “That money is a subsidy for insurance companies,” he said, adding how he doesn’t “want to make the insurance companies rich.”
Wadleigh said Access Health CT and state officials had anticipated Trump’s executive order.
In August, the Connectcut Department of Insurance asked its two health insurance carriers to amend their rate filings with the assumption that the subsidies to the carriers wouldn’t be made by the federal government. In September, the state’s insurance agency OK’d premium increases for silver exchange plans that accounted for the lack of federal payments.