A group of more than 15 states is suing the Trump administration over its decision to stop paying cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers under the Affordable Care Act.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman described the decision, announced on Oct. 12 by the White House, as "cruel," "breathtakingly reckless" and "unlawful," CNBC reported.
The move means that government payments designed to cut the cost of health care premiums for middle class Americans will be removed. CNBC noted that premiums are expected to rise by 25 percent by 2020.
"This is an effort to blow up the system," added Schneiderman.
He took aim at President Donald Trump.
"We're not going to let him do it," said the attorney general, adding: "We will be in court to defend these subsidies and fight this decision with everything we've got."
New York is being joined in the suit by California. Xavier Becerra, California's attorney general, also spoke on the topic on Oct. 13.
"In one week, the Trump administration has re-opened the door to junk health insurance plans and cut off access to contraception for millions of women," Becerra said.
His reference to "junk health care plans" followed Trump's Oct. 12 signing of an executive order that enables insurers to sell plans across state lines and offer cheaper plans with reduced coverage.
"Now they're refusing to comply with federal law in a way that will hike the cost of care for millions of Americans by withholding critical subsidies that make care more affordable," added Becerra.
But the Trump administration defended its move in a joint statement from Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan and Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.
"The Obama administration unfortunately went ahead and made CSR payments to insurance companies after requesting -- but never ultimately receiving -- an appropriation by Congress as required by law," they wrote.
Carmen Parra, a 64-year-old woman who benefits from CSR payments, told ABC News she was "scared, anxious and worried" after learning of the Trump administration's decision. She said that due to CSR payments, she currently pays approximately $15 for an urgent care visit following an asthma attack, or $2 for blood pressure and asthma medications.
"Please consider the people who need this assistance so they can live," added Parra. "Our lives depend on it."
More than 6 million Americans benefit from the subsidies, which are available to people who buy health insurance on government-run exchanges. Currently, they cost around $7 billion annually.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that if the CSR payments are removed, premiums will be 20 percent higher in 2018 than they would have been otherwise.
Sources: CNBC, ABC News / Featured Image: Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Flickr via Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Office of the President of the United States/Twitter via Wikimedia Commons, Office of the Vice President/Twitter via Wikimedia Commons