Democratic leaders in Congress slammed President Trump's decision to end Obamacare insurer payments as a callous act of sabotage that will raise premiums.
The White house announced Thursday night that it would end the payments to insurers that reimburse them for lowering out-of-pocket costs of poor Obamacare customers. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the decision was part of a greater effort to sabotage Obamacare.
"It is a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America," the Democrats said of Trump's decision in a joint statement. "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."
The Democrats said that the president is walking away from "good faith" bipartisan negotiations in the Senate to fund the payments for two years in exchange for more flexibility for states to waive Obamacare regulations.
There are no reports yet that the bipartisan talks, which have been on ice while the Senate is in recess this past week, are in fact done.
The White House has been making payments to insurers to reimburse them for decreasing copays and deductibles for low-income Obamacare enrollees. But insurers are still required to lower the out-of-pocket costs and without the reimbursements they will likely raise premiums to recoup the cost.
The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that premiums will go up on average 19 percent if the payments aren't made.
The White House explained in its statement that it is ending the payments because they are unconstitutional and require congressional appropriation. The House challenged the legality of the payments back in 2014 and a federal judge agreed that the payments needed an appropriation.
But the judge has stayed her ruling and the Trump administration has delayed whether it wants to continue an appeal from the Obama administration.