Connecticut’s U.S. senators say there’s still a very real threat to the Affordable Care Act, despite the failure of the Republicans’ alternative health care bill. It centers around funding for some of the system's crucial subsidies.
Speaking at a press conference in Hartford to highlight the issue this week, Senator Richard Blumenthal said President Donald Trump is trying to extort Democrats to negotiate on repeal by threatening to undermine the health care system.
"He is talking as president like a two-bit mobster, threatening people's lives and livelihoods," he said, noting that Trump's talk was reminiscent of organized crime figures he had prosecuted in his former career as a U.S. attorney.
At stake is what’s known as the cost sharing reduction program, which helps low-income people afford co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses. Trump has the power to end funding for the program, or to allow a court challenge to it from congressional Republicans.
Either of those routes could cause insurers to lose confidence in the system and pull out of providing plans on state exchanges.
Senator Chris Murphy said fully half of the people in Connecticut who get their healthcare through the state exchange rely on the cost sharing reduction program. "A petulant adolescent," was his assessment of Trump's attitude.
"Here in Connecticut, a state that has seen the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act, we have a lot to lose if Donald Trump tries to undermine state-based exchanges just because he's mad that he couldn't force his own health care repeal bill through Congress," said Murphy.
Both Democrats called on the president to commit to funding the program, and to work with their party to improve the Affordable Care Act.