- Associated Press - Friday, October 13, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota officials don’t believe President Donald Trump’s plan to halt payments to insurers under the Obama-era health care law will have much impact on the market in 2018, the state Division of Insurance said Friday.

South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation spokeswoman Dawn Dovre said in an email that the state plans to allow health insurers to refile rates to reflect the change. The subsidies help lower copays and deductibles for people with modest incomes.

The impact on insurance rates is unclear and will vary for individual consumers, Dovre said. Sanford Health Plan President Kirk Zimmer said earlier Friday that the insurer was weighing whether to continue participating in the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace in both Dakotas, but Zimmer later confirmed through a spokeswoman that the carrier would remain.

Zimmer said premiums would increase beyond what the insurer had previously anticipated because of the move. Avera Health Plans and Sanford Health Plan currently provide exchange policies in the state and have signed an agreement with the federal government for 2018, Dovre said.

Avera Health Plans CEO Debra Muller urged Congress and the Trump administration to provide stability in the individual insurance market. Muller said she’s disappointed that federal officials haven’t found a solution on the subsidies, which cost the federal government about $7 billion a year.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the planned halt in payments in a statement Thursday.

South Dakota U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem said in a statement that the Affordable Care Act created a broken system propped up by “government bailouts” and increasing burdens on families. The Republican lawmaker said the law should be repealed.

State Democratic Party Executive Director Sam Parkinson said in a statement that Trump “turned his back” on South Dakota residents by ending the subsides that help make health care affordable for more than 16,000 state residents.

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