Obamacare subsidy cut-off would raise insurance prices: study

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Washington (AFP)

A threat by President Donald Trump to eliminate a crucial subsidy for Obamacare would sharply force up insurance costs and expand the US deficit, an independent government study said Tuesday.

The Congressional Budget Office said Trump's threat to kill his predecessor's popular health care program by eliminating the government's funding of "cost-sharing reductions" (CSR) for low-income Americans would force insurers to jack up premium prices by 20 percent to cover CSRs.

The higher prices could push consumers out of individual insurance markets, making the markets less attractive to insurers as well.

Without the subsidy, the CBO said,

President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, which sought to expand health insurance coverage, offered CSRs to people and families earning 250 percent or less of the federal poverty level, which stands at $24,600 a year for a family of four.

The subsidy reduces or eliminates their co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses for health treatment.

In a quirk of the ACA, the CRS subsidies have to be regularly renewed. Worries are that, after the July 28 failure of the Republican-controlled Congress to replace to repeal and replace Obamacare as Trump demanded, he could move to undermine the program by not renewing the subsidies at the end of this month.

"As I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode," he tweeted at the time.