VIRGINIA – President Donald Trump's decision last week to abruptly cut off federal payments to insurers is putting pressure on Congress to take action. The move to end federal subsidies to help insurance companies reduce out-of-pocket costs for low- and middle-income consumers is leading to an increase in premiums.
Senator Tim Kaine says Trump is making it harder for low-income Americans to get health care. Kaine is on the health and education labor pension committee and he says the committee is hard at work on a bipartisan bill to stabilize the market and preserve health care for those that need it most.
"We can't count on the president, he wants to blow up the health care system. There have to be people in Congress who are willing to make health care better, not worse," said Kaine.
The Senate's effort to temporarily reinstate the payments to avoid immediate turmoil in the insurance market would likely be a temporary fix. The president says he will not back a deal without getting something he wants in return.
In another development, the Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission (FERC) late Friday granted approvals for the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines in a split decision.
The pipelines would begin in West Virginia and carry gas from the Appalachian basin to U.S. markets along the east coast. Supporters of the project say it will lower energy costs and boost economic development while oppositions says it infringes on property rights and has a negative impact on the local environment and watershed.
Kaine said he has concerns about the nature of the decision, including the fact that the FERC board is usually made up of five members and it currently has three.
"The fact that they had to rush it before the two new members came on, the fact that they put it out at 7 on a Friday night, the fact that they had a stinging dissent shows, to me, that their reasoning is probably pretty weak," said Kaine.
Permits from agencies including the Department of Environmental Quality and the National Forest Service are still needed to move forward with the pipeline.