January 14,2019

Press Contact:

Taylor Harvey (Wyden) Helen Hare (Murray) Aisha Johnson (Casey) Erin Hatch (Neal)      CJ Young (Pallone)

Democratic Health Leaders Raise Threat of Premium Increases, Coverage Losses Due to Trump Shutdown

Democratic Committee Leaders Demand Answers from Trump Administration on Health Care Tax Credits, Waivers, as Trump Shutdown Drags on Members: “Patients and families should not have to effectively pay a Trump shutdown tax that makes their insurance less affordable.”

Washington, D.C. – Top Democrats from health care committees in the House and Senate today called on the Trump administration to ensure there are no premium increases or coverage losses due to the president’s reckless, unnecessary ongoing shutdown. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Treasury Department have been left unfunded by the shutdown and are responsible for paying Advanced Premium Tax Credits (APTCs) and other matters that make health care more affordable for American families.

“Families are facing a shutdown health care tax that increases their premiums and threatens their health coverage. Due to the cessation of most IRS operations, we are concerned that some taxpayers will face an unexpected spike in premiums for their health care coverage due to delayed payments of APTCs,” the members wrote. “We strongly urge you and your agencies to ensure consumers are not faced with insurmountable premium costs or loss of coverage as a result of this unnecessary shutdown.” 

The letter, sent to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar by Senate Finance Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senate HELP Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), Senate Aging Ranking Member Bob Casey (D-PA), House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA), and House Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), calls on the Trump Administration to outline the steps they are taking to prevent even more Americans from feeling the consequences of the shutdown.

Due to the lack of funding at the IRS, there are several potential issues that could adversely affect those who count on a tax credit to lower their monthly premiums. Those whose applications or tax filings require additional review from the IRS could be left to choose whether to pay their unsubsidized premium or drop their coverage altogether. Treasury also has a large role to play in assessing and approving State Innovation Waivers, also known as Section 1332 waivers, that states have to submit well in advance to ensure they go into effect in time to make a difference. The Trump shutdown is injecting even more uncertainty into America’s health care system, threatening higher premiums and potential coverage losses.

The full letter is available here.