|New York Times graphic; click on it to view a larger version|
Trump could also drop an appeal of a federal court decision that says the payments are illegal because Congress hasn't appropriated money for them. That would put the ball back in the lap of Congress, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said after his last-ditch, Republican-only bill was defeated Friday that he wanted to hear ideas from Democrats, but "Bailing out insurance companies without any thought of reform is not something I want to be part of."
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, one of three Republicans to vote against McConnell's bill and a former state insurance commissioner, said Trump's threats have "contributed to the instability in the insurance market" and "I seriously hope that in the meantime the president doesn't do anything to hasten that collapse." She said the payments are "not an insurance company bailout, but help people who are very low income avoid their out-of-pocket costs . . . It would really be detrimental to the most vulnerable citizens if those payments were cut off." The subsidies are available to people with incomes up to 250 percent of the poverty line.
Collins and some other Republicans want a bipartisan approach, starting with committee hearings on stabilizing the individual market. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said immediately after the bill's defeat that it "leaves an urgent problem that I am committed to address—Tennessee's state insurance commissioner says our individual insurance market is very near collapse."
Bloomberg News is continuing to update its county-by-county interactive maps of individual insurance coverage under Obamacare; here's a screenshot of one map, showing gains and losses: