By Propping Up Obamacare With Illegal Payments, Trump Is Eroding the Rule of Law
For a prime example of how the poorly conceived policy of Obamacare interacts with the Trump administration's disregard for the rule of law, look no further than the debate over the health law's subsidy payments to health insurance companies.
Over the last several months, as Republicans have struggled with legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare, President Trump has repeatedly warned that the health care law is already failing. If Congress did nothing, hesaidlast week, he would let it "implode." That may sound passive, but coming from Trump, it was an active threat to hasten the law's demise.
Since taking office, the president has dangled the possibility that his administration might cut off payments being made to insurers as part of Obamacare—money that insurers say is vital to stabilizing the health law's insurance exchanges. Over the weekend, he raised the idea again,tweetingthat, should Congress fail to act, bailouts for insurance companies "will end very soon."
The threat is meant to be leverage to force a recalcitrant Congress to act. In fact, it's a reckless move, because the payments are illegal and never should have been made in the first place.
As surface politics, Trump's threat is poorly chosen—cutting off the payments would cause premiums to rise. As policy and precedent, it's even worse—these payments are unconstitutional, and Trump's threats suggest he believes he has the legal authority to choose whether or not to make them.