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Judge Says Trump Can Block CSR Payments


The subsidies allow insurers to hold down overall premiums under the Affordable Care Act.

A federal judge has found that the Trump administration can stop making cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) while weighing a state program to keep the insurer subsidies intact.

Judge Vince Chhabria denied a preliminary injunction to 18 states and the District of Columbia, which sought to keep the subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) intact. The CSRs help insurers hold down overall premiums while meeting the ACA requirements to keep down costs for Americans with the lowest income.

While acknowledging the CSRs had helped achieve a core goal of the ACA—dramatically lowering rates of the uninsured—Chhabria wrote that the states failed to meet the bar needed for a preliminary injunction, and suggests that the administration likely has the stronger argument. House Republicans had sued, and won a lower court ruling that Congress had not, in fact, appropriated funds for the CSRs.

Chhabria wrote, in fact, that “the emergency relief sought by the states would be counterproductive.”

Bipartisan legislation being considered in the Senate, sponsored by Senators Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, and Patty Murray, D-Washington, would restore the CSRs through 2019 and grant states additionally flexibility to craft waivers. Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office found that the legislation would reduce the deficit by $3.8 billion while keeping coverage rates stable.

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