Questions Loom About Obamacare As Covered California’s Open Enrollment Nears

Hear Chad Terhune on KPFA’s Letters And Politics starting at the 40-minute mark:

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With open enrollment a little more than two weeks away, President Donald Trump took a one-two punch at the Affordable Care Act.

Last week, Trump said he would stop paying key subsidies, known as cost-sharing reductions, which compensate insurers for providing discounts on deductibles and copays. He also signed an executive order aimed at loosening the rules for association health plans — organized by certain types of professional, trade or interest groups — and short-term medical insurance. Trump argues these changes would give consumers cheaper coverage options, but experts warn that people may lose critical protections and face higher premiums when they’re sick.

Californians are somewhat insulated from harm, in part because health insurers here have already raised 2018 premiums for certain plans to offset the loss of the cost-sharing subsidies. In addition, California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, joined with other states to file a lawsuit last week challenging Trump’s decision to end the payments.

On Tuesday, Sens. Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander announded a bipartisan agreement to restore the cost-sharing subsidies and stabilize the ACA marketplaces. Trump appeared to support the effort as a “short-term” solution.

Still, time is running short for 2018 open enrollment, which kicks off Nov. 1.

Before the announcement of the Murray-Alexander agreement Tuesday, Chad Terhune, a senior correspondent at California Healthline and Kaiser Health News, appeared on KPFA’s “Letters And Politics” show, speaking with guest host Max Pringle about the health care debates in Washington, D.C., and California. In addition to the ACA, they discussed the nation’s opioid crisis, prescription drug prices and growing support in California for a single-payer health system.

Terhune also appeared last Thursday on KPCC’s “AirTalk” show, discussing with guest host Libby Denkmann what’s next for the ACA under Trump.

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