WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Friday urged Democrats to make a deal with him on healthcare after he scrapped billions of dollars in Obamacare subsidies to private health insurers for low-income Americans in a move that raised concerns about chaos in insurance markets and could face legal challenges.
Trump scraps key Obamacare subsidies, urges Democrats to fix 'mess'
The Trump administration on Friday disclosed the date of the subsidies cutoff after announcing late on Thursday the most dramatic action the president has taken to undercut Democratic former President Barack Obama's signature 2010 healthcare law.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the administration will not make the next payment to insurers scheduled for next Wednesday. The payments cost $7 billion this year and were estimated to be $10 billion in 2018, according to congressional analysts.
Trump has made the payments, guaranteed to insurers under Obamacare to help lower out-of-pocket medical expenses for low-income consumers, each month since taking office in January. But he has repeatedly threatened to cut them off and disparaged them as a "bailout" for insurance companies.
The move drew swift condemnation from congressional Democrats, who accused Trump of sabotaging the law, and threats from Democratic state attorneys general in New York and California to take legal action.
Trump, a Republican who promise as a candidate last year to dismantle the law formally called the Affordable Care Act, urged opponents to reach out to him to make a deal.
"The Democrats ObamaCare is imploding. Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix!" Trump said in a post on Twitter early on Friday, calling the law "a broken mess."
Shares of hospitals and health insurers fell in premarket trading on Friday after Trump's decision. Shares of Anthem Inc, Molina Healthcare Inc, Cigna Corp and Centene Corp, which are all offering plans on Obamacare markets for 2018, were all lower.
Trump has been frustrated by the failure of his fellow Republicans who control Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare despite seven years of promises to get rid of the law that has brought health insurance to 20 million people.