US President Donald Trump has dramatically moved to undermine Obamacare by cutting off subsidies to health insurance companies for low-income patients, sparking threats of legal action and concern of chaos in insurance markets.
The move drew swift condemnation from Democrats and threats from state attorneys general in New York and California to fight back with lawsuits.
Trump has been frustrated by Republicans’ failure to repeal and replace the law known as Obamacare, thwarting a promise he made during the 2016 campaign.
His decision is likely to please those among his political base who detest the Obamacare system, which many Republicans have attacked for years as an unneeded government intrusion in Americans’ healthcare.
In a nod to that same constituency, the president signed an executive order earlier on Thursday to make it easier for Americans to buy bare-bones health insurance plans.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi derided the subsidies cut-off in a joint statement, saying Trump would single-handedly push Americans’ healthcare premiums higher.
“It is a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage levelled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America,” they said. “Make no mistake about it, Trump will try to blame the Affordable Care Act, but this will fall on his back and he will pay the price for it.”
Insurers and proponents of Obamacare have implored Trump for months to commit to making the payments, which are worth billions of dollars. Several insurers have cited uncertainty over the payments in hiking premiums for 2018 or exiting insurance markets altogether.
Trump has made the payments, guaranteed to insurers under Obamacare to help lower out-of-pocket medical…