President Donald Trump wants to light the fuse that many experts say could cause the Obamacare individual insurance exchanges to crumble.
According to Politico's Josh Dawsey, Paul Demko, and Jennifer Haberkorn, Trump told White House aides in a Tuesday meeting that he wants to end the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments that are part of the Affordable Care Act.
The payments help to offset costs for insurers in exchange for offering more affordable coverage to low-income Americans. Without the payments, experts say, premiums would likely skyrocket and insurers would drop out of the market.
Currently, the CSR payments are funded by the executive branch. That method is subject to a lawsuit from the House of Representatives that alleges the payments are illegal since they should be appropriated by Congress, not the White House.
In 2016, a federal judge ruled in favor of the House, putting CSR payments in jeopardy. The Obama administration filed an appeal. Now the Trump administration must decide whether to continue or drop the appeal.
So far, the Trump administration has only committed to funding the payments through May, as part of a deal to keep the federal government funded.
According to Politico, while Trump favors dropping the payments, some administration officials like Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price worry that if the CSR payments are stopped, the Trump administration could be blamed for the resulting chaos in the insurance markets.
The concern over the payments has already led some insurers to drop out of Obamacare markets in states such as Iowa and Virginia. Additionally, a group of 15 states and Washington, DC, filed a motion Thursday to continue the Obama administration-led appeal even if the Trump administration decides to drop the case.
"If successful, the suit could — to use the president's expression — 'explode' the entire act," the filing says. "Until recently, states and their residents could rely on the executive branch to respond to this attack. Now, events and statements, including from the president himself, have made clear that any such reliance is misplaced."
The Trump administration must provide a status update on whether they wish to continue the case to the US District Court of Appeals on Monday.