Casey, Murray, Wyden, Neal & Pallone Call on Administration to Fund CSR Payments, End Sabotage of Families’ Health Care

Aug 16, 2017
Press Release

On the heels of a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report showing that cutting cost sharing reduction payments (CSR) would spike premiums for the most popular plans offered on the exchanges by 20% next year, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representatives Richard Neal (D-MA) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) released a new letter to the Administration calling on them to continue CSR payments in light of the Administration’s threats to end them. In their letter, the Members of Congress lay out the ways the Administration has engaged in sabotage of our nation’s health care system since January.

The Members of Congress wrote, “Most critically, the Administration must commit to permanently making cost-sharing reduction payments, which are essential to supporting individual insurance markets and making health care affordable for hard-working families.   Governors, medical providers, patient groups, business leaders, and health insurers have stated that continuing cost-sharing reduction payments is key to the success of the health insurance Marketplaces and is the “most critical action” the Administration could immediately take to help ensure the stability of the health insurance Marketplaces.  In recent days, Congressional Republicans have also called on the Administration to continue these payments.”

The full text of the Members’ letter can be seen below:

Dear Secretary Price:

Millions of people across the country breathed a sigh of relief last month after the Republican health care bill did not pass the Senate.  We have been encouraged by recent commitments from our Republican colleagues in Congress to move away from harmful partisan proposals and work toward bipartisan solutions that will make health care more affordable.  It is time for the Administration to join efforts to improve the health care system by halting its attempts to undermine and sabotage the health insurance marketplaces and Medicaid coverage and instead make the health and well-being of those we serve the top priority.

Most critically, the Administration must commit to permanently making cost-sharing reduction payments, which are essential to supporting individual insurance markets and making health care affordable for hard-working families.   Governors, medical providers, patient groups, business leaders, and health insurers have stated that continuing cost-sharing reduction payments is key to the success of the health insurance Marketplaces and is the “most critical action” the Administration could immediately take to help ensure the stability of the health insurance Marketplaces.  In recent days, Congressional Republicans have also called on the Administration to continue these payments.

The Administration’s rhetoric is creating uncertainty that is threatening the health care of millions.  If the Administration decides to cut-off cost-sharing reduction payments, insurance rates are expected to spike by 20 percent. Consumers would face fewer coverage options and uncompensated care costs would grow. This would undoubtedly jeopardize the ability of hard-working families to afford vital health care services. 

Threatening to stop making cost-sharing reductions payments is the latest in a long line of efforts by the Administration to attack the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The Administration’s statements and actions since January 20, 2017, have sent clear signals about its goal to undermine the law and destabilize the health insurance market.  We call on you to stop this sabotage of the insurance market, particularly as Congress works on bipartisan solutions to strengthen and stabilize it.  The following efforts by the Administration threaten to rollback protections, increase costs, and reduce access to health care:

  • Executive Order 13765, issued on January 20, directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services and other federal departments and agencies to undermine the ACA “to the maximum extent permitted by law;”
     
  • The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) decision to halt advertisements and suspend email and social media enrollment outreach during the crucial final days of the ACA’s Open Enrollment for 2017 in January, an action which is now under review by HHS’s Office of Inspector General;
     
  • The Internal Revenue Service issuing a decision in February to process tax returns without an indication of a taxpayer’s coverage status;
     
  • Your statements suggesting that HHS may seek to waive the individual mandate entirely, and your false characterizations that the mandate has driven up costs;
     
  • HHS supporting requirements under Medicaid that would make it harder for people eligible for benefits to receive them;
     
  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issuing a final rule in April to undermine insurance coverage for Americans by weakening requirements on health insurance companies, increasing deductibles, and shortening the ACA’s Open Enrollment period;
     
  • HHS spending funds meant to promote enrollment in the ACA exchanges on a public relations campaign to undermine the law, including producing more than 130 videos at an estimated cost of nearly $550 per hour;
     
  • HHS making changes to its website and HealthCare.gov that make it more difficult for consumers to obtain health insurance coverage and understand options;
     
  • HHS using official communications channels to promote Republican health care proposals and the repeal of the ACA, the legality of which is now under review by the Government Accountability Office;
     
  • In 18 cities, terminating the contracts for in-person assisters who guided applicants through the ACA enrollment process and helped them sign-up for health insurance;
     
  • Eliminating more than 1,000 jobs at two call centers that provide assistance to those seeking health insurance coverage under the ACA;
     
  • The Administration considering ACA regulations that it could repeal on its own in an effort to rollback health insurance protections and undermine insurance coverage; the Administration refusing to share information about these considerations with Members of Congress; and
     
  • Despite the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office finding that the Marketplaces are stable under the ACA, the Administration continuing its inflammatory rhetoric in an attempt to spread falsehoods and misinformation about the health of the ACA.

These actions and statements have serious repercussions on the health and welfare of all Americans.  We hope that you will reverse course on all efforts to undermine and sabotage the health care of millions of Americans, faithfully implement the ACA as has been done in the past, and allow us to negotiate in good faith toward bipartisan solutions that will improve health care for everyone.

Sincerely,