August 04, 2017

Trump’s threat to halt federal health insurance payments will hurt thousands of Delawareans

Press Release

President Donald Trump’s threat to sabotage the country’s health insurance markets by withholding cost sharing reductions (CSRs) – federal payments that health insurance companies rely on to keep coverage affordable – would devastate some of our most vulnerable communities, directly impacting thousands of Delawareans (and millions of Americans).

The mere suggestion of stopping these federal payments has already created major uncertainty in our insurance market, causing insurers to raise premiums – often by double digits – or leave markets entirely.

In Delaware, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield has proposed increasing the average cost for individual ACA marketplace plans by as much as 33.6 percent. CSR payments help keep coverage affordable for more than 24,000 Delawareans, nearly half of which benefit directly from federal CSR payments.

“From the moment it became law, Republicans have deceitfully sought to undermine the ACA, artificially driving up costs and very much putting politics ahead of people’s lives and livelihoods,” said Erik Raser-Schramm, Chairman of the Delaware Democratic Party. “First, red states forced some of their poorest and sickest residents to join the exchanges, driving up prices, and now it’s President Trump recklessly threatening to hold back critical funds that insurers count on for cost containment.”

“If the federal government fails to live up to its obligations under the law, insurers will likely continue to exit the marketplace,” warned Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro back in June, when Highmark’s potential increase was first announced.

All of this happens at a time in Delaware when Republicans in the General Assembly are openly talking about cutting health care benefits for our state’s most vulnerable residents.

Saying helping more people through Medicaid is “a nice thought” we can’t afford, Sen. Greg Lavelle and his Republican colleagues refused even the most modest personal income tax increases for the wealthiest Delawareans, forcing 10 percent cuts to public health programs that care for pregnant women in poverty, combat our state’s opioid epidemic, and help fight cancer.

“Heading into the midterm elections, it would not be an overstatement to say that the health care of thousands of Delawareans hangs in the balance,” Raser-Schramm said. “If Republicans want to work in a bi-partisan way to improve our system, we will join them. But until then, Democrats must continue to stand in the way of their efforts to sabotage our system. And we must continue to stand with the thousands of Delawareans who deserve reliable and affordable health care for their families.”