HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen has teamed up with attorney generals from California, Massachusetts, and Kentucky in challenging President Donald Trump’s elimination of the cost sharing reduction payments.
The complaint, which will be filed in federal court in California, claims Trump did not follow the law when he announced late Thursday night that the payments would stop.
The cost-sharing reduction payments help lower the co-payments, deductibles and co-insurance for low-income individuals. They are made on a monthly basis to insurance carriers participating in the exchanges.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the president “can’t pick and choose which laws he chooses to follow.”
He said he was a member of Congress when the Affordable Care Act was being written and he understands the intent of the law and the intent was “not to sabotage healthcare for millions of Americans.”
The payments have been made since 2014.
Becerra said the Affordable Care Act makes it very clear that these subsidies are required.
But the administration and Republicans in Congress who challenged the payments in the D.C. Circuit Court don’t believe that’s true.
U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions argued in an Oct. 11 memo to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Acting Health and Human Services Secretary Don Wright that since Congress has never funded the CSR payments, they can be discontinued.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy insisted during a conference call with reporters Friday that the Affordable Care Act authorizes and mandates these payments.
“Congress’s repeated choice to deny funding for CSR payments is thus Congress’s prerogative,” Sessions wrote in the memo. “When Congress refuses to appropriate money for a program, the executive is required to respect that decision.”
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said of the 88,000 Kentuckians who purchased health insurance from the federal exchange, “70 percent voted for him” and are going to be directly impacted by the president’s decision.
“In the end, this action is going to harm them,” Beshear said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re a Democrat or a Republican. It doesn’t matter who they voted for. They deserve affordable healthcare and for these people a 20 percent increase could mean the difference between having health insurance or not and in many parts in my state that’s the difference between life and death.”
Becerra added that the Trump administration is also violating the administrative procedures act in the way it’s going about undoing the payments.
Jepsen said they believe the D.C. Circuit Court got it wrong.
“The ACA is an integrated, tiered plan and to pick one piece out of it just undermines the integrity of the whole,” Jepsen said.