Report: President's crucial decision on healthcare subsidies pushed back 3 months

The subsidies help people get affordable health plans through programs such as MinnesotaCare.

A crucial decision on whether the federal government will continue to pay out billions of dollars to insurance companies so they can provide affordable health plans to low-income Americans has been pushed back.

Politico reports the Trump administration and the House of Representatives on Monday asked for another 90-day delay in a lawsuit over "cost-sharing subsidies" created under the Affordable Care Act.

When President Obama was in power, House Republicans sued the government saying the $7 billion in payments to insurance companies was unconstitutional, which a federal judge agreed with. The Obama administration was given time to appeal – with the subsidies continuing until that appeal came to a resolution.

What if the appeal is dropped?

With Donald Trump now in power, there's been a question over whether he would drop the appeal. Doing so could have a knock-on effect on health exchanges and programs across the country, including those in Minnesota.

Minnesota is one of 15 states to have intervened in the legal wrangle, last week joining a separate lawsuit trying to keep the payments going.

The states argue that stopping the subsidies would lead to higher premiums for poor Americans, more uninsured people, higher costs for states, and insurance companies potentially leaving health exchange markets altogether.

In Minnesota, it could put a stop to $120 million of annual funding used for MinnesotaCare. That program subsidizes health plans for residents who have low incomes, but make too much to qualify for Medicaid.

The decision to delay the appeal also has a bearing on health insurers that are trying to decide whether to continue offering plans through government programs in 2018.

A spokesperson for the Alliance of Community Health Plans told Politico they're now filing 2018 rates, but the uncertainty "is becoming nearly impossible for plans and the families that count on these subsidies."

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