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Saturday October 21st, 2017 12:48AM

The Latest: Democrats slam new Trump health policy

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's executive order on health care (all times local):

11:15 p.m.

Congressional Democratic leaders say it will be an act of "vast, pointless sabotage" if President Donald Trump halts payments to insurers under "Obamacare."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi reacted Thursday night to news reports that Trump planned to stop the cost-sharing payments.

The Democrats say Trump "has apparently decided to punish the American people for his inability to improve our health care system." They add that "millions of hard-working American families will suffer just because President Trump wants them to."

The White House said in a statement Thursday night that the Department of Health and Human Services has determined there is no appropriation for cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers under the Obamacare law.

__

10:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump plans to halt payments to insurers under the Obama-era health care law that he has been trying to unravel for months.

That's according to two people familiar with the decision who sought anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The White House says in a statement that the Department of Health and Human Services has determined there is no appropriation for cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers under the Obamacare law.

Trump's decision is expected to rattle already-unsteady insurance marketplaces. The president has previously threatened to end the payments, which help reduce health insurance copays and deductibles for people with modest incomes, but remain under a legal cloud.

The president's action is likely to trigger a lawsuit from state attorneys general, who contend the subsidies to insurers are fully authorized by federal law, and the president's position is reckless.

— Ken Thomas and Catherine Lucey

___

12 p.m.

President Donald Trump predicts "millions and millions of people" will benefit from his action to unwind the health care law.

He's signed an executive order to make lower-premium plans more widely available.

But the changes Trump hopes to bring about could take months or even longer. That's according to administration officials who outlined the order for reporters Thursday morning. The proposals may not be finalized in time to affect coverage for 2019, let alone next year.

White House domestic policy director Andrew Bremberg said that Trump still believes Congress needs to repeal and replace the Obama-era Affordable Care Act. The White House described the order as first steps.

Trump signed the order in the White House's Roosevelt Room surrounded by Vice President Mike Pence, members of his Cabinet and Congress.

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11:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that aims to make lower-premium health care plans available to more Americans.

The president says the order will provide what he calls "Obamacare relief" for millions of Americans.

Trump is relying on the executive order because the Republican-controlled Congress has been unable to pass a plan to repeal and replace the Obama-era health care law.

Trump says the health care system "will get better" with his action, and the action will cost the federal government nothing.

The president says he still wants Congress repeal and replace the Obama health care law. But his says his order will give people more competition, more choices and lower premiums.

___

3:38 a.m.

President Donald Trump has made no secret he's frustrated with the failure of Congress to repeal and replace "Obamacare."

Now Trump will try to put his own stamp on health care with an executive order that aims to make lower-premium insurance plans available to more consumers. He will unveil his plan Thursday.

Administration officials say it will let groups and associations sponsor coverage that can be marketed across the land, reflecting Trump's longstanding belief that interstate competition will lead to lower premiums.

Trump's move is likely to encounter opposition from medical associations, consumer groups and even insurers — the same coalition that has blocked congressional Republicans. They say it would raise costs for the sick, while the lower-premium coverage for healthy people would come with significant gaps.

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