In a move that could cost millions of Americans their health insurance, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday that could force businesses to drop coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
The order, which would affect employers, could also trigger a legal challenge that could affect tens of millions of people.
Trump signed the order in the Rose Garden at the White House to announce that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will “end the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to health insurers that have been a vital part of the Affordable Care Act.”
The CSR payments, known as cost-shifting, help insurers cover lower deductibles and co-pays for people who are younger and sicker than most people.
It is estimated that nearly $600 billion in the CSR funding is in the works.
The Trump administration is also planning to eliminate subsidies for people buying insurance on the ACA marketplace.
The administration has argued that the CSRs are necessary for people to be able to afford coverage and is now moving to make them a non-starter.
The decision to cut off the payments came after weeks of talks between the administration and the insurance industry over the CSRF payments.
Under the agreement, insurers will have to either pay a penalty or give up some of the money in order to stay in the marketplaces.
However, the payments are the only way the government is able to subsidize insurance.
It’s unclear whether the CSr payments will be a permanent part of Obamacare.
Insurers say the payments will continue to help them cover people with health problems, but they’re worried that they will be cut off.
They also said they were concerned that the cuts would hurt the enrollment they’re trying to generate.
The payments are crucial to covering the cost of covering people with conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and asthma, as well as for people in rural areas where insurance companies are often unable to provide coverage.
The White House said in a statement that the administration is working with the insurance companies to ensure that the payments remain available.
“The administration is committed to ensuring that Americans have access to quality, affordable health care coverage while also protecting their investments in health care, including through the CSRP payments,” the statement said.
In a press conference Thursday, the Department, which oversees HHS, said it’s also “working with the federal health insurance marketplace to protect Americans from the impact of the CSRM payments.”
The payments, which have been in place since 2014, help pay premiums to insurers to help pay for out-of-pocket expenses for people earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level, which is $45,960 for an individual and $84,200 for a family of four.
Insurance companies are expected to get about $4 billion in payments.
The president is expected to make a decision on whether to continue the payments by the end of this week, and will have a final decision on the matter by the start of next month.
The move could be a blow to insurance companies.
Insuring about 22 million people would be a huge blow to the insurance marketplaces, which rely on the payments.
About 10 million people currently get insurance through the federal government’s marketplaces and they’re among the most expensive ways to purchase health insurance.
But if insurers are forced to pull out of the market, that could reduce the amount of money insurers could receive from the government.
It could also put a huge burden on the federal budget.
In addition to the CSRS payments, the government pays about $1.6 billion in COVID-19 payments to insurers each year.
Insured people are responsible for paying for COVID treatment.
The U.S. spends more than $200 billion a year on COVID treatments, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the past year alone, nearly 9,000 Americans have died from COVID, the CDC said.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the CSRR payments “will help insurance companies provide coverage for those who have pre-established medical conditions.”