President Trump reportedly wants to end insurer subsidies for Obamacare, which could immediately create turmoil in insurance markets, according to a Friday afternoon report.
Trump told aides in a Tuesday White House meeting that he wanted to end the cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers that reimburse them for reducing co-pays and deductibles of low-income Obamacare customers, according to Politico.
Insurers have said they would leave the Obamacare exchanges or drastically raise prices without the payments. No decision has been finalized yet.
Senior administration officials including Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price are wary of ending the payments as it could unravel the individual market, which is for people who don't get insurance through work.
Insurers have been pushing the White House for months to make a decision on the cost-sharing payments for 2018. Insurers are required under Obamacare to lower co-pays and deductibles and get reimbursed by the government.
But if Trump cuts off the payments this year, insurers could leave the Obamacare exchanges immediately.
Insurers have been seeking an answer on 2018 because they are formulating plans for next year and face a June deadline to send in rates in 38 states that use healthcare.gov.
Trump previously told the Washington Examiner that he wanted to see what happens to his healthcare bill before making a decision to continue the payments long-term. The American Health Care Act, which would partially repeal Obamacare, passed the House this month by a 217-213 margin.
The bill hasn't been sent to the Senate, as senators are working on their own version.
The administration's intentions on the cost-sharing subsidies may become clear as soon as Monday. The administration and the House must issue a status report on a lawsuit from the House challenging the payments' legality.
The House filed the lawsuit in 2014 against the Obama administration. It argued the payments needed to be appropriated through Congress, which they are not.
A federal judge agreed with the House but delayed the ruling from taking effect until appeals were exhausted.
The Trump administration has yet to signal whether it will continue an Obama administration appeal.
"The White House has told Congress that it will make the May CSR, but has not made any commitment on further payments," a White House aide told the Washington Examiner. "No final decisions have been made at this time, and all options are on the table."
Some members of Trump's administration have blasted the payments, most notably Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recently called them "unconstitutional."