Warning of the decision's "great human cost," 19 attorneys general on Friday filed suit in a federal court to stop President Donald Trump's decision to cut off key Obamacare cost-sharing subsidies, as outrage from advocacy groups continued to pour in.
"Taking these legally required subsidies away from working families' health plans and forcing them to choose between paying rent or their medical bills is completely reckless. This is sabotage, plain and simple," said California Attorney Xavier General Becerra, who's leading the coalition of states.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who's also a party to the suit, called it "a reckless assault on the healthcare of thousands of New Yorkers and millions of Americans," which is part of a "partisan campaign to sabotage our healthcare system."
The suit (pdf), filed Friday afternoon, says that ending the subsidies "will harm millions of state residents and the states themselves by making health insurance more expensive and less accessible," thus "impos[ing] a great human cost."
Laying out the consequences of the change, Vox explained how the "new policy is lose-lose-lose for key stakeholders with no upside:"
- It will raise Obamacare premiums by an estimated 20 percent in 2018, as health plans have to charge more to make up the lost funds. By 2020, premiums would increase 25 percent due to this change.
- Pulling the plug actually increases the national deficit. As those insurance plans make double-digit rate increases, the government will have to spend billions more on the other subsidies that 10 million Americans receive to purchase that coverage.
- The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this move will ultimately cost the government $194 billion over the next decade.
- The number of uninsured Americans would rise by one million people in 2018, in the CBO's estimate.
- Insurance companies lose out, too, particularly those that assumed Trump would pay these subsidies and set their premiums accordingly. They now stand to face significant financial loses on the Obamacare marketplaces.
With such impacts in mind, Cheryl Fish-Parcham, director of access initiatives at Families USA, called the ending of the subsidies "the most malicious and harmful attack yet by the Trump Administration on the Affordable Care Act."
Denouncing the cut-off as well as Trump's executive order Thursday attacking the ACA, Derrick Johnson, interim president and CEO of NAACP, said, "President Trump does not care about protecting the health of Americans. To end the Affordable Care Act in this way is a desperate maneuver to engineer a political win for his right-wing base, after nearly a year of covert, detrimental action.”
According to Chris Carson, president of League of Women Voters, it showed that "Trump is attempting to dismantle the American healthcare system piece by piece, in the same dangerous and under-the-table manner that the American people made clear to their Congressional leaders is unacceptable." While the healthcare law is imperfect, "Congress should work to improve it," she said. "The White House should not undo the positive impacts this legislation has had for millions of Americans who previously could not afford healthcare coverage."
As Sen. Bernie Sanders sees it, "we have a president who is trying to destroy the American healthcare system."
Joining California and New York in the new suit are the attorneys general of Kentucky, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Oregon, North Carolina, Illinois, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Minnesota, New Mexico, Washington, Iowa, and the District of Columbia.