An analysis of Medicare data indicates that President Donald Trump's decision to discontinue federal subsidies for the Affordable Care Act markets will negatively impact the states that voted for him. The majority of states that relied on these subsidies are conservative-leaning.
On Oct. 12, Trump announced that he was ending cost-sharing reduction payments -- or federal subsidies that reimburse insurance companies who are mandated by law to help cover low-income patients' deductibles and copays.
"The bailout of insurance companies through these unlawful payments is yet another example of how the previous administration abused taxpayer dollars and skirted the law to prop up a broken system," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement, according to CNN.
"The Democrats ObamaCare is imploding," Trump tweeted the following morning. "Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix!"
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi released a joint statement blasting Trump's decision as "a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America."
On Oct. 15, an Associated Press analysis of 2017 enrollment data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that conservative states would be more adversely affected by Trump's decision to discontinue CSR payments than liberal-leaning states because their residents' relied more heavily on the federal subsidies.
The analysis found that nearly 70 percent of Americans who relied on CSR subsidies to afford their insurance coverage lived in states that swung for Trump in November 2016. Roughly 4 million patients living in 30 pro-Trump states relied on the CSR payments. Nine out of the 10 states that benefited the most from CSR payments sided with Trump in the 2016 election.
Insurance companies will still be required to help cover low-income patients' deductibles and copays, but they could raise premiums or pull out of the state ACA market if they determine that covering those areas is not cost-effective without the CSR payments.
"Probably for some people it would be a death sentence," said Sherry Riggs, a Florida resident who relied on federal subsidies to afford her cardiologist visits and medication to treat a heart condition. "I think it's kind of a tragic decision on the president's part. It scares me because I don't think I'll be able to afford it next year."
Florida had more residents relying on CSR payments than any other state. Based on the expectation that the CSR payments would stop, the Sunshine State is slated to see an average premium increase of 45 percent in 2018.
On Oct. 13, a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found that 60 percent of national adults wanted Congress to guarantee that CSR payments would continue; only 33 percent were against. While the majority of Democrats and Independents supported CSR payments, 55 percent of Republicans viewed the subsidies as bailouts for insurance companies and wanted them stopped, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.