Trump administration to make CSR payments this month, yet signs persist that it's undermining ACA

Affordable Care Act highlighted
Under the Trump administration, the Department of Health and Human Services is pursuing a PR strategy aimed at lessening public support for the ACA. (Getty/Ellenmck)

As Republicans in Congress struggle to agree on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, one major concern remains whether the Trump administration is acting as a faithful steward of the current law.

In that regard, recent developments offer both good and bad tidings.

On the positive side for insurers, the Trump administration confirmed this week that it will disburse this month’s cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to health insurers, Axios reports.

Earlier reports had indicated that the administration might not make the payments in the wake of Republicans’ failure to garner enough votes for their healthcare bill—or a repeal-and-delay measure. Indeed, Trump himself at one point suggested the GOP should let the ACA fail.

He still could make good on that promise, however, as the administration’s commitment to making future payments remains up in the air.

“We are looking at the cost-sharing payments on a month-to-month basis,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said Tuesday, according to the Independent Journal Review.  

That latest news about CSR payments, though, comes amid a new report that chronicles how the Trump administration has used its powers to undermine the ACA.

The report, from The Daily Beast, indicates that the Department of Health and Human Services used funding set aside for consumer outreach about the ACA to conduct a social media campaign and create video testimonials aimed at disparaging the law.  

RELATED: When federal health officials put politics over policy, everyone loses

The 23 videos it’s released so far, all shot at HHS’ internal studio, feature individuals describing how the healthcare law has harmed them. Sources told the publication that to pay for the videos, HHS is drawing money from its “consumer information and outreach” budget, which had been used to advertise the ACA and boost marketplace enrollment.

The official HHS Twitter account, meanwhile, has become a tool to disseminate anti-ACA messages and has retweeted HHS Secretary Tom Price’s own tweets calling on Congress to repeal and replace the ACA. Further, HHS’ website and Healthcare.gov have both seen subtle changes that seem aimed at de-emphasizing the ACA’s merits, the article notes.

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