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Sen. Ernst Supports Obamacare Payments as Insurance Premiums Increase

joni ernst
Katarina Sostaric
Sen. Joni Ernst discussed cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments under Obamacare in Washington, Iowa, August 15, 2017.

Sen. Joni Ernst says she wants the federal government to continue making payments for Obamacare subsidies to health insurance companies.

President Trump has repeatedly threatened to stop making "cost-sharing reduction" payments.

That uncertainty has led the only health insurance company left on Iowa’s exchange to propose a nearly 57 percent rate hike for 2018. Medica originally requested a 43 percent increase. 

At a town hall in Washington Tuesday, Sen. Ernst said she does not anticipate that the "cost-sharing reduction" payments will stop, despite the president’s statements.

"I would like to see those dollars continue, at least for now, unless there is a better suggestion out there," Ernst said. "We just need to stabilize the market."

The Trump administration made the payment for August but could decide to stop at any time.

The Congressional Budget Office predicts a 20 percent nationwide increase in Obamacare exchange premiums if the Trump administration cuts these subsidies.

Many Iowans on the Affordable Care Act exchange receive different subsidies that are expected to cover the cost of higher rates. Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen says the people who don't receive subsidies may end up dropping their health insurance. 

Medica’s rate filing still requires approval by the Iowa Insurance Division.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter