Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today joined with attorney general from 16 states and the District of Columbia in filing a lawsuit challenging President Trump's rollback of healthcare subsidies arguing the loss of funds and financial uncertainty will lead to higher insurance costs for consumers and to insurers abandoning the individual health insurance market, thus increasing the number of uninsured and increasing the financial burden on states.
The Affordable Care Act's mandatory cost-sharing reduction payments help working families access more affordable healthcare coverage by helping individuals with incomes between $11,880 and $29,700 enroll in plans with lower deductibles, copayments or coinsurance, reducing their out-of-pocket costs. There are an estimated 16,000 Rhode Islanders who receive subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
"Whether you agree or disagree with the subsidies, there is still a moral obligation to address the issue so as not to hurt individuals. It should be addressed through legislative action not by withholding payment in an extortion-like attempt to get your way with Congress. This is an extremely spiteful move by the president to play hard ball politics at the expense of millions of hard working Americans who will struggle to pay for health insurance or may not be able to afford it at all," said Attorney General Kilmartin.
In the lawsuit expected to be filed later today in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the attorneys general argue, "The Administration's new refusal to make the required federal payments directly subverts the ACA, and will injure the Plaintiff States, their residents, and the entire healthcare system. The loss of funds and financial uncertainty caused by their actions will lead to higher health insurance costs for consumers and to insurers abandoning the individual health insurance market. The number of uninsured Americans will increase once again, hurting vulnerable individuals and directly burdening the States. The unlawful refusal to make CSR reimbursement payments will also substantially complicate the States' efforts to administer their healthcare markets and in some instances, leave consumers with no health plan to access despite their federal entitlements under the ACA."
The states also argue that this move by the Administration was not based on a good-faith reading of the statute, but rather a "deliberate strategy to undermine the ACA's provision for making healthcare more affordable and accessible."
Since taking office, the states argue, "the Trump Administration has engaged in a sustained effort to 'explode' the ACA by making it more difficult and expensive for individuals to procure health insurance through the Act's Exchanges."
Attorney General Kilmartin and his fellow attorneys general are seeking a temporary restraining order enjoining the president from withholding payments to insurers who provide CSR subsidies and seeking a ruling from a federal judge that the subsidies are lawful, and that ending them violates the law.
In addition to Rhode Island, the states participating in the lawsuit include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.