Spotlight: Trump touts health care executive order amid criticism, insurance market jitters

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-15 01:10:50|Editor: Liangyu
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U.S. President Donald Trump (Xinhua photo)

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump touted his executive order on health care Saturday amid criticism that his measures, aimed at gutting the Affordable Care Act (ACA), would destabilize the health insurance market.

"Very proud of my Executive Order which will allow greatly expanded access and far lower costs for HealthCare," Trump tweeted Saturday morning. "Millions of people benefit."

"Health Insurance stocks, which have through the roof during the ObamaCare years, plunged yesterday after I ended their Dems windfall," the president said in another tweet.

Trump signed an executive order Thursday, intending to dismantle the ACA, or Obamacare, with proposals for cheaper, bare-bone, and short-term health insurance plans, after GOP-controlled Congress repeatedly failed to repeal and replace the Democratic bill this summer.

The White House also announced that it will end subsidies to health insurers by ending cost-sharing reduction payments used to lower out-of-pocket costs for low-income customers.

In a statement late Thursday, the administration said that it "cannot lawfully make" the payments on the ground that they were not appropriated under the ACA.

Critics said the successive measures would spike premiums prices, drive people away from Obamacare plans and lead insurers to exit the marketplace, which could potentially turn the insurance market into turmoil.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners estimated that cutting off federal payments to insurers would produce a 12 percent to 15 percent rise in premiums, while the Congressional Budget Office has put the figure at 20 percent.

A number of insurance companies, including Centene and Anthem, and hospitals have already saw their stocks decline.

Two major insurance industry groups, America's Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association said the move would make it harder for patients to access the care they need.

"We need constructive solutions that increase consumer choice, lower consumer costs and stabilize local markets," the two groups said in a statement Friday. "Terminating this critical program will do just the opposite."

Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer said on Friday that "threats and bulling" from the president would not force Democrats to repeal Obamacare, stressing that Trump has "a decreased level of trust" with voters and congressional Democrats.

As of Friday, 18 states have signed onto the lawsuit filed in federal court in California against the president's decision to end the cost-sharing subsidies, alleging that the move is not following federal law in ending a legally mandated system that already is operating.

"Without the ACA and its subsidies for these families, millions more would be left in the cold without coverage," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said the president's latest action is "incredibly mean-spirited".

He warned that it would drive up health insurance prices enough that healthier people will flee the insurance markets, resulting in higher costs for those who remain.