A day after President Donald Trump hinted he may let the insurance exchanges collapse, the White House says it will pay cost sharing reductions to help consumers afford coverage on the exchanges this month.
However, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the subsidies' status is "undetermined beyond that.
Currently, the federal government is spending $7 billion a year to lower deductibles and co-pays for about 8.4 million customers. Customers with the lowest incomes on the Obamacare exchanges have out of pocket spending capped at $255 annually.
The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that the subsidies, known as cost-sharing reductions, or CSRs, would cost the federal government about $10 billion in 2018. But if they're not paid, premiums would rise so much that the government would spend an additional $12.3 billion for refundable tax credits to buy silver plans on the insurance exchanges.
On Tuesday, Trump hinted he may end all efforts to support the bill in an attempt to get Democrats on board to draft new healthcare legislation.
"I think we're probably in that position where we'll just let Obamacare fail," the president said. "We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you that the Republicans are not going to own it. We'll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us and they're going to say, 'How do we fix it?'"