Diary

Here's Another Obamacare Attack Vector

Over at the WSJ a new method to hobble the unpopular law by, as they say “Republicans could undo much of the Affordable Care Act by stepping up challenge to its insurance subsidies.”

It’s behind a paywall but you can read the article titled “After GOP Bill’s Failure, Health-Law Lawsuit Takes Center Stage” here

Key point:

[They] have an option for gutting the health law relatively quickly: They could halt billions in payments insurers get under the law

Continuing

House Republicans were already challenging those payments in court as invalid. Their lawsuit to stop the payments, which they call illegal, was suspended as Republicans pushed to replace the ACA, but it could now resume—or the Trump administration could decline to contest it and simply drop the payments. Mr. Trump could unilaterally end the payments regardless of the lawsuit.

Such actions would stop the government payments reimbursing insurers for subsidies

Dire consequences would follow if they choose to continue with the suit:

…Insurers are pressing for a quick decision on the lawsuit as they decide whether to participate on the exchanges next year

The subsidies decision crystallizes the broader dilemma facing Republicans following their failure to replace the ACA. They have the power to accomplish some of their goals by weakening the law through administrative action.

And now to the crux of the problem…

But that risks a backlash from voters who lose insurance.

The question, as it always has been, is “Do Republicans really want to end Obamacare as soon as possible?”

Here’s some history.

House Republicans filed the lawsuit seeking to block the ACA subsidies in 2014, when former President Barack Obama was still in office, asserting the payments were made without the required congressional appropriation.

A federal judge in 2016 ruled the government payments were improper but let the subsidy payments continue while an appeal was pursued. After Mr. Trump was elected, Republicans requested and received an initial delay in the case.

Now, it could take a while to work the case through the courts but, here’s a shortcut:

The case could drag out for years. But if the Trump administration settles the suit and drops the appeal, payments would cease and insurers would likely increase premiums or abandon the exchanges.

Business uncertainty can be our friend,

Even an uncertain prospect for the payments might be enough to spook insurers from participating in the exchanges in 2018, further imperiling the insurance marketplaces. Insurers must decide by June, or earlier in some states, whether to participate in the exchanges next year.

Since “Trump predicts Obamacare will ‘collapse’” why not use the ‘nudge’ against the progressives that love the nudge so much?

If the House and Trump want to play hardball, prediction can become a reality and it could start to happen this year rather than leave it to an uncertain future.

Are we really tired of winning yet or could we use a little more of it?