WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - As part of an effort to dismantle Obamacare through executive action, President Donald Trump plans to eliminate subsidiaries paid to insurers under the healthcare law.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the decision in a statement sent to reporters Thursday night.
Sanders said the Department of Health and Human Services concluded there is no appropriation for the cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies.
'In light of this analysis, the Government cannot lawfully make the cost-sharing reduction payments,' Sanders said in the statement.
She added, 'The bailout of insurance companies through these unlawful payments is yet another example of how the previous administration abused taxpayer dollars and skirted the law to prop up a broken system.'
The payments reimbursed insurers for discounts in healthcare costs offered to low and middle-income Obamacare customers.
The subsidies, which are paid out in monthly installments, were worth about $7 billion this year and an estimated $10 billion in 2018.
The decision drew harsh criticism from Democrats, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., accusing Trump of seeking to singlehandedly hike Americans' health premiums.
In a joint statement, Pelosi and Schumer called the move a 'spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America.'
'Make no mistake about it, Trump will try to blame the Affordable Care Act, but this will fall on his back and he will pay the price for it,' Pelosi and Schumer said.
They added, 'President Trump has apparently decided to punish the American people for his inability to improve our health care system.
Pelosi and Schumer cited a projection from the Congressional Budget Office that said ending the payments would lead to a 20 percent increase in premiums.
The move was also criticized by some Republican lawmakers, with Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., saying cutting the subsidies would mean more uninsured people in her district.
However, Trump sought to put the blame on Democrats for the problems with Obamacare in posts to Twitter on Friday.
'The Democrats ObamaCare is imploding. Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix!' Trump tweeted.
He added, 'ObamaCare is a broken mess. Piece by piece we will now begin the process of giving America the great HealthCare it deserves!'
The announcement of the decision came just hours after Trump signed an executive order he claimed would provide millions of Americans with relief from Obamacare.
The executive order directs the administration to develop policies that would offer alternatives to the plans on the Obamacare exchanges.
Trump has decided to take executive action on Obamacare after Republican lawmakers failed in their efforts to repeal and replace the law.
(Photo: Gage Skidmore)
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