Trump threat: End health payments unless there’s an overhaul

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Trump participates in the commissioning ceremony of the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia

U.S. President Donald Trump participates in the commissioning ceremony of the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, U.S. July 22, 2017. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Saturday threatened once more to end required payments to insurance companies unless lawmakers repeal and replace the Obama-era health care law.

In apparent frustration over Friday’s failure by the Senate Republican majority to pass a bill repealing parts of the Affordable Care Act, Trump tweeted: “If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!”

No Democrats voted for the GOP bill.

Repeal-and-replace has been a guiding star for Republicans ever since President Barack Obama enacted the law in 2010. That goal, which was one of Trump’s top campaign promises, remains out of reach even with Republicans controlling both the White House and Congress. The issue has dominated the opening months of Trump’s presidency.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said after the bill failed early Friday that he would move to other legislative business in the upcoming week.

The subsidies are required under the law. They total about $7 billion a year and help reduce deductibles and copayments for consumers with modest incomes. But the payments are the subject of a lawsuit brought by House Republicans over whether the law specifically included a congressional appropriation for the money, as required under the Constitution. Trump has only guaranteed the payments through this month, which ends Monday.

READ NEXT: Senate defeats ‘skinny repeal’ of Affordable Care Act, sending health care reform back to committee.

Trump previously said the law that he and others call “Obamacare” would stop immediately whenever those payments stop.

The Senate’s Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, said such a step will make health care even more expensive.

“If the president refuses to make the cost sharing reduction payments, every expert agrees that premiums will go up and health care will be more expensive for millions of Americans,” Schumer said Saturday in a written statement. “The president ought to stop playing politics with people’s lives and health care, start leading and finally begin acting presidential.”

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