After the Republican’s attempt at a healthcare bill failed spectacularly, President Donald Trump threatened to cut insurance subsidies in an attempt to force Democrats back to the table to negotiate on healthcare. Now, with a government shutdown pending, it seems the White House has backed down from this threat in order to keep the lights on past Friday—perhaps an indication that the words that our president says out loud don’t mean diddly squat.
The Washington Post reports that Trump has agreed to continue to pay insurers who offer coverage under the ACA. According to ABC News, the payments will continue even if there’s no specific language that guarantees them in the spending bill. Because Trump is insistent that the border wall be built, the threat of cutting the cost-sharing reduction subsidies was also part of a plan to force Democrats to agree on a budget that included money earmarked for that specific purpose. Earlier this week, Republicans submitted a budget without new money for the wall, effectively eliminating plans to build that stupid thing, even though our esteemed leader claims it will happen somehow during his first term.
That the government will continue to pay the cost-reduction subsidies is a small breath of fresh air for the 58 percent of Americans covered by Obamacare in 2017 who are qualified to receive them. “It is good that once again the president seems to be backing off his threat to hold health care and government funding hostage,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, noting that by dropping this now-idle threat, we are closer to a “bipartisan agreement to fund the government.”
Echoing his sentiments and acknowledging that the two major concerns Democrats faced in regards to the budget have been addressed, Nancy Pelosi said in a statement “We’ve now made progress on both of these fronts.”
Despite clearing this relatively large hurdle, there are still other, smaller ones to contend with. The Post reports that there are several other policy provisions that Democrats have yet to sign off on, including restricting abortion access under the ACA and a plan to replace the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act that imposes stricter regulations on Wall Street Banks.
If the proposed budget is cleared by the Friday deadline, the Trump administration will have to continue making the subsidy payments through the end of May.