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Oops, something went wrong and we can\'t tell if you\'re logged in. Please referesh and try again. Ron Sachs/dpa/picture-alliance/Newscom President Trump announced today that he will stop making payments to health insurers under Obamacare. The payments, which are called for by statute, began under President Obama. But a federal court ruled last year that because Congress never appropriated funding, making the payments violated the separation of powers and thus was illegal. Obama, however, kept paying them anyway. So, up until now, has Trump. With this move, Trump brings the administration of Obamacare into constitutional compliance.

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Supporters of Obamacare have already started complaining that President Trump's decision amounts to sabotage. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Ct. ), for example on Twitter this morning that stopping the health care payments is nuclear grade bananas - a temper tantrum that sets the entire health system on fire. President Trump, who has threatened to cut off the payments all year in an attempt to create bargaining leverage, almost certainly sees the move as a way of kneecapping the exchanges. But there's something funny about the move: In the long run, it might actually increase the number of people with health insurance coverage. It would cost the government more, cause short-term turbulence, and increase the deficit, but after it all shakes out, Obamacare would end up covering even more people. Trump might have just made Obamacare more generous. The payments in question are known as cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies. They are paid directly to insurers, and they provide extra financial for individuals who make between 655 and 755 percent of the poverty line. Cut those subsidies off, and insurers will try to make up the difference by raising premiums. In a on the likely effects of cutting off the subsidies earlier this year, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that premiums would be about 75 percent higher for typical plans purchased under the law. But the premium hikes won't directly affect most low-income people, however, because Obamacare's subsidies increase with premiums, insulating those individuals from higher costs. Instead, this move is likely to raise premiums for people who earn too much to qualify for subsidies under Obamacare—which is to say, the people who have already been hit hardest by the law's price hikes. The expansion of the subsidies, meanwhile, gets paid for by taxpayers, increasing the deficit by about $699 billion over the next decade. What CBO expects to happen, then, is that, as a result of premium increases, higher income people will find Obamacare plans less appealing, and fewer will buy coverage next year, resulting in about 6 million fewer people with health coverage in 7568. But over time, the increased subsidies would actually make coverage more attractive for those with qualifying incomes.

By 7576, the CBO projects, about a million more people will have coverage. If CBO is right, in other words, Trump's decision to cut off CSRs will make Obamacare more expensive for taxpayers, but will also result in more people with subsidized coverage over time. Regardless of what Trump intends, that doesn't exactly sound like sabotage. The CBO could be wrong, of course. The agency's coverage estimates have certainly been off before. But the budget office's analysis is, at minimum, a reminder that the long-term effects of this change could be more complex than many people seem to think. If nothing else, this decision will act as a stress test of CBO's insurance coverage model. There are other wrinkles too: As law professor Nicholas Bagley, insurers are likely to sue over lost payments, which this year come to about $7 billion. The payments were not appropriated by Congress, but they are called for in the statute of the health care law, and insurers may well win. Health insurers have already won suits against the government in related cases involving other subsidies built into the law. President Trump, meanwhile, still appears to have a worrying view of his own authority with regards to the subsidies. The entire point of the case against them was that the White House, under Obama, did not have the authority to decide whether or not to pay them, because under the Constitution, the power of the purse lies with Congress alone. Either Congress appropriated them, or it didn't, and in either case the executive branch would have a duty to spend, or not spend, accordingly. Congress didn't appropriate the money, and therefore neither Obama nor Trump had the authority to make the payments. If Trump actually believes the payments are unconstitutional, he should have stopped making the payments immediately upon taking office. But he didn't. He repeatedly dangled the possibility of cutting off the payments, and administration health officials reportedly also hinted that they might continue making them if insurers supported the GOP's health care legislation this summer.

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Trump, in other words, has acted as if the decision to pay or not is the president's to make. The point of last year's federal ruling is that it is not. Yet he still seems to believe that it is. Early this morning, after news broke that he would cut off the payments, he tweeted that he was still willing to bargain. The Democrats ObamaCare is imploding, he wrote. Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix! The Democrats ObamaCare is imploding. This is not Trump's to fix. It is a decision for Congress and Congress alone. Perpetuating the idea that the decision should or can come from the White House helps. Cutting off the payments has, for the moment, brought Trump's into constitutional compliance, but it's not clear that Trump himself actually understands what that means. Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason. Com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time.

Report. He does seem to be treating this like DACA, calls it unconstitutional but only to the extent of using it as leverage. I think he should have done this sooner, a lot sooner, but I can understand why he might do this. Namely, because he knows full well that Democrats aren't going to call him on it and Republicans aren't either. It seems he's going to continue knocking holes in the ACA until someone gives him his unicorn. This isn't the worst thing around though, considering unicorns don't exist. It's almost poetic, in a way, or at least it would be if any of it mattered long term. The next King will just reverse it or do whatever the hell they want with it. That is my major problem with all of this nonsense. Congress passed a law that could not be implemented as written and was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court then refused to do its job and invalidate the entire law. Everyone remembers the infamous penaltax opinion of Roberts' but they forget that Roberts and the majority of the court declared a huge portion of the law, the state medicare expansion, unconstitutional. The court should have struck down the entire law not just gutted it of the provisions it didn't like. So the country ends up with a law that could not be implemented as written and which a large portion of it was struck down by the courts. Obama, being Obama, refused to compromise or just give up and repeal the law before it went into effect. He let the law go into effect and just had the executive rewrite and reinterpret it as they saw fit. And Congress stood by and let him do it. Along comes Trump and the GOP finally has a chance the kill the thing, and they refuse to do that.

Trump can either continue to enforce the laws in illegal and unconstitutional ways or just completley ignore the law because there is no way to implement it as written. There are no good options there. Maybe not the Congressional Democrats, but Democrat Attorneys General are about to sue him. Time to get used to at least 9 long years of Democrat AGs suing Trump over every one of his bowel movements. Yeah, that might end up in the Supreme Court but New York and California will need to get in line behind all the other challenges and by the time it gets to them it will almost certainly be moot. I don't think the Supreme Court can force Congress to appropriate money, but it wouldn't surprise me if they decide they also have the powers of Congress. I mean, they already try to legislate. It seems spending would be a part of that agenda. The judiciary opining that the legislative and executive branches must spend money is an interesting issue. It comes up at the state level, where a state constitution might require adequate funding of schools, for example. I learned once that injunctions for specific performance in a breach of contract are hard, which is why courts prefer either negative injunctions or else monetary damages. It must be even harder when you are trying to positively enjoin coequal branches of government and the very institutions that are supposed to be enforcing your judgment. I used to think that what Congress giveth, Congress can taketh away. But starting (? ) with NFIB v. Sebalius, it sounds like Congress can't just taketh away whenever it feels like it. A district court judge has already said that the federal government can't withhold funding from sanctuary cities. The one way ratchet of government spending is getting more entrenched.

No, no Judge has said that the federal government can't withhold money from sanctuary cities. What Judge Leinenweber - and others - ruled is that only Congress can change the terms under which money distributed according to laws it has passed is distributed. Last time I looked, Congress is a part of the federal government.

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