Trump Administration Looking at Ways to Re-Sabotage Obamacare

From Andrew Sprung:

While Congress balked at restoring CSR funding for 2019, CMS administrator Seema Verma is now intimating that CMS may ban “silver loading,” the pricing practice that produced this year’s discounts in bronze and gold plans.

I suppose that sounds like Latin to most of you. Here’s what it means:

  • The original version of Obamacare included something called Cost Sharing Reduction. This was a payment directly to insurers that reduced the cost of health insurance for the poor.
  • Last year, President Trump ended CSR payments.
  • To his surprise, however, this didn’t sabotage Obamacare. In fact, due to the way premiums are calculated, it had a modestly positive effect. A full explanation is here.
  • The specific mechanism for the positive effect was something called “silver loading,” where insurance companies raised premiums to make up for CSR but raised them mostly on silver plans. Since silver plans are the benchmark for subsidies, this caused subsidies to increase and the net cost of bronze and gold plans to go down.

In other words, the Trump administration is so incompetent that they even screwed up their effort to sabotage Obamacare. However, having accidentally made Obamacare a little bit better, they’re now desperately scuttling around for ways to make sure their sabotage works the way they wanted it to. Banning silver loading would do this.

What a piece of work these guys are. They’re just bound and determined to screw over their constituents using any means necessary. But look! Scary Mexicans!


We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.