Closings and delays

President Trump to make decision on Obamacare payments this week, says Kellyanne Conway

WASHINGTON — White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Sunday that President Donald Trump would make a decision “this week” on whether to continue government payments to insurance companies to help lower costs for lower-income policyholders under Obamacare.

“He’s going to make that decision this week,” Conway said of the so-called cost-sharing reduction payments in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” And that’s a decision that only he can make.”

Trump tweeted a warning on Saturday that if Congress didn’t pass a bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act soon, he would end the “bailouts” for insurance companies as well as members of Congress. The tweet came just a day after the Senate failed to pass a “skinny repeal” of Obamacare in a dramatic vote early Friday morning.

The administration is now paying the subsidies on a monthly basis, leaving the industry worried that Trump could end them at any time.

Already, some carriers have requested large rate hikes for next year to cover them in case Trump decides to stop paying the cost-sharing reduction subsidies. Other carriers no longer wanted to deal with the volatility and decided to walk away from the individual market.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price declined on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to address the issue directly, citing ongoing litigation.

“What I can tell you though is that the court has made a decision that those payments were made illegally,” Price said. “And that’s working its way through the court system.”

But Price pledged to enforce Obamacare, despite his belief that it isn’t working, saying twice, “Our job is to follow the law of the land.”

In an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Price spoke to another key portion of Obamacare, the individual mandate, saying his department could still choose to waive the mandate, which requires people to have health insurance or face tax penalties.

“All things are on the table to try to help patients,” Price said.