State attorney general joins health subsidy lawsuit

At issue is a subsidy for deductibles, co-pays that help lower costs for consumers with modest incomes.

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. (Wikimedia Commons)

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. (Wikimedia Commons)

By Rachel La Corte

Associated Press

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Friday joined a multistate coalition suing over President Donald Trump’s decision to immediately halt federal payments to insurers under the national health care law.

“President Trump may not like the Affordable Care Act, but trying to sabotage it on the backs of hard-working Washingtonians is wrong — and illegal,” Ferguson said in a statement. The state is among nearly 20 states that has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration.

At issue is a federal subsidy for deductibles and co-pays that helps lower costs for consumers with modest incomes. The White House says the government cannot legally continue to pay the so-called cost-sharing subsidies because they lack a formal authorization by Congress.

Consumers who qualify will still receive tax credits to help pay their silver premiums, however, millions of others across the country who buy individual health care policies without any financial assistance from the government and could face prohibitive increases.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that premiums for a standard “silver” plan will increase by about 20 percent without the subsidies. In Washington state, the increase is expected to be between 9 and 27 percent, officials say.

Halting the payments would trigger a spike in premiums for next year, unless Trump reverses course or Congress authorizes the money.

“Continuing the federal funding that helps people buy health insurance is critical to maintaining a stable market in Washington,” Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said in a written statement. “This is not a bailout for insurance companies. It’s a lifeline for people who depend on affordable health insurance.”

A spokeswoman for Kreidler said that more than 330,000 people buy health insurance through the state’s individual market and more than 70,000 qualify for subsidies. However, 40,000 consumers who currently buy silver plans don’t get any financial assistance that would help offset a dramatic premium increase, said spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis.

“President Trump’s decision to stop making the cost-sharing reduction payments is nothing more than a deliberate and unconscionable sabotage of the personal health care of millions of Americans,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a prepared statement. “It will directly harm middle-class families by hiking their premiums, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs, while creating chaos and instability in the marketplace.”

The next open enrollment for the state exchange begins Nov. 1.

Talk to us

More in Northwest

CORRECTS NAME OF CANDIDATE AT LEFT TO MAIA ESPINOZA INSTEAD OF OF MONICA MARCHETTI - Maia Espinoza, a candidate for Washington state superintendent of public instruction, is shown at left in an undated photo taken by Monica Marchetti and provided by her campaign. Espinoza is challenging incumbent state superintendent Chris Reykdal, right, shown in an AP photo taken Oct. 2, 2020, in Olympia, Wash., in the upcoming November election. (AP Photo)
COVID and sex education frame the state superintendent race

Maia Espinoza, 31, is challenging incumbent Chris Reykdal, 48. They are both parents — with divergent views.

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best laughs during a light moment at a news conference, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in Seattle. Best, the first Black woman to lead Seattle's police department, announced she will be stepping down in September following cuts to her budget that would reduce the department by as many as 100 officers. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle’s ex-police chief joins KING as law enforcement analyst

Carmen Best retired from the police department amid a controversy over proposed budget cuts.

Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond. (University of Washington)
UW climate expert: We are moving into uncharted territory

State climatologist says the declining snowpack threatens water supplies as population grows.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, right, speaks, Monday, July 13, 2020, during a news conference at City Hall in Seattle. Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best, looking on at left, were critical of a plan backed by several city council members that seeks to cut the police department's budget by 50 percent. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Police investigate threats, messages against Seattle mayor

Homophobic slurs and hateful messages were left outside the home of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.

Seattle police depart at highest numbers in years

The 110 officers leaving marks the highest total since at least 2012.

Washington Supreme Court reverses 1960 cemetery decision

The old, already illegal rule allowed cemeteries to discriminate on the basis of race.

Health care workers and other staff walk out of Harborview Medical Center, a part of UW Medicine, during a noon hour break in a demonstration asking management to do more to protect staff, patients and the public amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Thursday, May 14, 2020, in Seattle.  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Harborview: COVID outbreak killed a patient, infected staff

Ten staffers at the Seattle hospital have tested positive for COVID-19 and are isolating.

Seattle-area man is 3rd in U.S. with 2nd confirmed COVID case

The patient, in his 60s, tested positive in early March and got sick against nearly 5 months later.

Washington unemployment rate drops to 7.8%

Most job growth occurred in leisure and hospitality, construction and other services.

Mountlake Terrace woman accused of hiring men to kill her ex

Police say there may be a financial motive behind the murder-for-hire plan involving “quite a bit of money.”

REMOVES REFERENCE TO NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO DIED FROM COVID-19 - State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy speaks to the media about the coronavirus outbreak, as Insurance Commissioner Mike Kriedler looks on, Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Olympia, Wash.  Kriedler has issued an order requiring health insurers in the state to not charge copays or deductibles for people who require testing for the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)
Washington’s top public health officer to leave position

Dr. Kathy Lofy says she plans to focus on her own health and to connect with friends and family.

Inslee: 5 Washington counties can relax virus restrictions

There has been a “leveling out” of coronavirus risk between the five counties and the rest of the state.