Gov. Jay Inslee, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler and Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued the following statement regarding the need for action by the Trump Administration to maintain affordability and stability in health insurance markets.
“All lawmakers should be committed to working in a bipartisan manner to achieve needed improvements for our health care system. This should start with a commitment from President Trump that his administration will continue to pay the Affordable Care Act’s Cost-Sharing Reductions, in accordance with the law. This provision of the ACA was designed to help Americans afford their health insurance and is a crucial tool to maintaining healthy and robust insurance markets, and in protecting the tremendous gains Washington has made expanding access to higher quality and more affordable health care.
“We are pleased with the decision issued yesterday by a federal court that will allow Washington and other states to intervene in the legal defense of this vital provision of the ACA. And we believe that this decision makes clear that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is required by law to continue making these Cost-Sharing Reductions payments, until the challenge brought against them has been resolved by the courts.
“In the meantime, we join with Republican and Democratic lawmakers across the country in calling on President Trump to continue these payments. Anything less would amount to a deliberate and unconscionable sabotage of Americans’ health care, for political purposes.
“Finally, we are pleased that efforts in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act have failed, and that U.S. Senate Republicans have now expressed a willingness to work with Democrats on bipartisan policy solutions to improve our nation’s health care system. Our state stands ready to engage in productive conversations towards that goal.”
Last year, more than 71,000 Washingtonians who enrolled in health insurance through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange had lower co-pays and deductibles because of the $65 million in cost-sharing payments insurers received from the federal government.
Yesterday Attorney General Bob Ferguson was one of 16 state attorneys general who were granted a motion to intervene by the Federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in their bid to defend the authority and requirement that the federal government continue making payments of the CSRs. The Republican leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives had previously challenged the Obama Administration’s authority on CSR payments, in federal court, and the Trump Administration had sought to drop the legal defense of the provision and to discontinue the payments. Yesterday’s ruling allows the case to proceed in the courts.
Earlier today the bipartisan National Governors’ Association (NGA) issued a statement calling on President Trump to fully fund the ACA’s Cost-Sharing Reductions (CSRs) for the remainder of 2017 and 2018, calling it “a necessary step to stabilize the individual marketplaces in the short-term as Congress and the Administration address long-term reform efforts.”
Last month Inslee and Insurance Commissioner Kreidler called on Congress to the reject the latest proposal to repeal and replace the ACA, which eventually failed in the U.S. Senate. Inslee and Kreidler have urged Congress to instead develop bipartisan solutions to improve the nation’s health care system, and participated in the development of “Shared Priorities from the Governors’ Bipartisan Health Reform Learning Network,” convened by the NGA, which proposed a number of policy recommendations for the Congress to consider. These included fully funding Cost-Sharing Reductions, creation of a federal reinsurance program, and maintaining Medicaid Expansion.