March 19 2019
Oregon is joining California's lawsuit, along with more than a dozen other states, against President Donald Trump's halting of payments to insurers under the Obama-era health care law, Oregon's attorney general said Friday.
Ellen Rosenblum said the White House "has made a rash, ill-conceived decision that will have a devastating impact on many vulnerable Oregonians."
"These ACA subsidies are a vital funding source that keep insurance premiums manageable," Rosenblum said, referring to the Affordable Care Act that Trump has tried repeatedly, and failed, to repeal.
The White House says the government cannot legally continue to pay the so-called cost-sharing subsidies because they lack a formal authorization by Congress.
Trump said Friday the subsidies are "almost a payoff" to insurance companies to lift their stock prices instead of helping low-income people afford premiums.
But several attorneys general say Trump is not following federal law in ending a legally mandated system that already is operating.
Jesse O'Brien with the Oregon Public Interest Research Group said the president's orders don't make sense.
"This is a reckless and destructive decision and we hope it doesn't actually come to pass," he said. "If it does, Oregon is going to need to respond in some way to preserve the stability of our health insurance markets."
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has said his team is reviewing the executive order and will use the legal tools available to defend the Affordable Care Act.
Many in Oregon's Congressional delegation have spoken out against the executive order.
"The president has decided to pull out the rug from under families who simply want affordable health care," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, the ranking member of the Senate finance committee.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, echoed Wyden.
"This will result in higher premiums, fewer options, and more people without health insurance," he said. "Ultimately, the damage will destabilize insurance for everyone."
Responding to the presidential orders, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services ordered health insurance companies offering plans on HealthCare.gov to increase their approved silver-tier 2018 plan rates by 7.1 percent.
"These rate increases are necessary to ensure the stability of the health insurance market," said Jean Straight, acting DCBS Director. "Oregonians who receive financial assistance through the marketplace will find that premium assistance will also increase, shielding them from most of the increase."
But the agency determined there will be no change for 2017 health plans.
"Oregonians can be assured that their 2017 plan rates and benefits will not change today or through the end of the year," said Straight.