Following on the heels of widespread outcry over Thursday’s executive order rolling back key sections of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen announced late on Friday that he will join other Attorneys General in a lawsuit designed to retain the subsidies that millions of lower-income families have used to cover deductibles, doctors’ visits and prescriptions.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the suit will be filed in the federal court for California’s Northern District. Other Attorneys General indicating support of the measure include those in Massachusetts and Kentucky.
“President Trump’s latest action is tremendously mean-spirited,” Jepsen said in announcing the move. “It will result in real damage to working families. It’s a shame he’s doing it on the backs of working Americans.”
Earlier, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and Connecticut’s senators were among Democratic officials denouncing the executive order. The administration says the executive order will lead to developing policies to increase health care competition and choice to improve the quality of health care and lower prices.
Opponents said the order – which comes in the wake of several high-profile failures by Congressional Republicans to alter or replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare — could destabilize the law by siphoning off younger and healthier Americans from the exchanges and raising insurance premiums for older, sicker Americans for whom the law has protections.
“This executive order is yet another attack on affordable health care for Americans,” said Malloy, adding that it was “yet another effort to destabilize the individual insurance marketplace.
“Sabotaging the Affordable Care Act will cause real harm to people,” said Malloy, “and it is infuriating that these assaults will not stop. We implore Congress and the president to constructively engage with states to fix and strengthen the law rather than conspiring for its failure.”
Lt. Gov. Wyman, who chairs the board of the state’s health insurance exchange, Access Health CT, called the executive order “an end-run around the Affordable Care Act, a law that millions of Americans have come out to defend every time Congress tried to repeal it. Americans have made it clear that they want to fix the ACA, not end it.”
“The newest repeal incarnation by the Trump administration will threaten health care for thousands of residents in Connecticut and make it harder for insurers to do business – exactly the opposite goals we’ve worked toward in our state and in states throughout the country,” Wyman added.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal called the order “yet another flawed façade that promises more coverage while delivering far less. If the Administration is intent on improving health care, they owe the American people a concerted effort to repair our current system, instead of weakening it through continued disruption of the insurance marketplace.”
Sen. Chris Murphy called the executive order “a cruel, backdoor way to strip health benefits from Connecticut families.”
The Trump order will not take effect in time to affect open enrollment in health insurance plans for 2018, which in Connecticut runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 22.
“The President’s announcement that the administration cannot make the cost-sharing reduction payments to the insurance carriers for the cost-sharing reductions — commonly referred to as the CSRs — will not change the health insurance plans or rates offered through Access Health CT for 2018,” said AHCT CEO Jim Wadleigh. “The CSR plans will continue to be available to eligible consumers.
“The majority of our customers will not be impacted because they qualify for premium tax credits — which are separate and distinct from the CSR’s, and not impacted by this announcement — as these premium tax credits mitigate the effect of the premium increases,” Wadleigh continued. “Customers eligible for financial help through premium tax credits will see very small increases to their portion of premium, and in some cases their portion of premium may be smaller for next year.”
AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond also blasted the executive order.
“CSRs provide critical financial help for nearly 6 million people with modest incomes, including for more than 2 million older Americans, to afford the health insurance they need,” she said. “Discontinuing these subsidies will further destabilize the insurance marketplace, significantly increase families’ premiums, and cause people to lose coverage.”