After scrapping major Affordable Care Act insurance subsidies, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to comment on the decision.
"Based on guidance from the Department of Justice", the statement read, "the Department of Health and Human Services has concluded that there is no appropriation for cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies under Obamacare".
"This is promoting healthcare, choice and competition all across the United States..."
You can read the White House summary of the executive order here. With people's lives at stake, the health care question is a microcosm for the larger battle between unregulated capitalism and state intervention. However, it could also destabilize Obamacare by siphoning off younger and healthier Americans from the exchanges.
Known as cost-sharing reduction payments, or CSRs, the subsidies were expected to total $9 billion in the coming year and nearly $100 billion in the coming decade. It's no coincidence that their next move is to give a tax break to the wealthiest in this nation.
House Speaker Paul Ryan on the other hand praised the president's decision.
He has threatened for months to cut off the payments, belittling them as a 'bailout' for insurers.
Congressional Republicans have argued that the Obama administration should have sought congressional approval for the payments in a spending bill. Experts also questioned whether Trump has the legal authority to expand association health plans.
Vice President Mike Pence had to chase down President Trump to remind him to sign the executive order on healthcare he announced Thursday afternoon.
Acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan and Medicare administrator Seema Verma said the payments will be discontinued "immediately". "The claim before we saw any of this was that it was going to make affordable coverage available to tens of millions of people".
They argue that the order will lead to the creation of a "shadow" health insurance system that competes directly against the ACA marketplaces, offering cheap and limited policies. "Lawsuits, lawsuits, and more lawsuits", Nicholas Bagley, an assistant professor of law at the University of Michigan, wrote in a blog post Thursday night.
That means the higher premiums could force the federal government to adjust the amount of subsidies people receive, increasing the financial burden on the government.
Dirk Van Dongen, the president of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, told The New York Times he's "delighted" by the move.
"This just isn't a revolution to insurance markets", he said. Others may try to exercise a clause in their contracts that allows them to drop out if the subsidy funding disappears. A judge agreed but allowed the administration to continue making the payments during an appeal. In 2011, it said that such plans would still be subject to tight federal regulation.
'Cutting health care subsidies will mean more uninsured in my district, ' Republican representative for Florida Ileana Ros-Lehtinen tweeted when the decision was announced Thursday. Administration officials said the payments were unconstitutional bailouts of the insurance industry.
Democrats denounced Trump's order as more "sabotage" while Republicans called it "bold action" to help consumers.
Insurers have already signed contracts committing them to participating in 2018 and setting their rates.