Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, the largest Obamacare insurer in the state, has announced it intends to hike health insurance premiums by 22.9 percent in 2018 unless the Trump administration guarantees to continue doling out what are called cost-sharing reductions (CSRs). If the CSRs are continued, the company added, rates would go up just 8.8 percent.

“The biggest single reason for the sharp increase in rates is the lack of federal funding for ‘cost-sharing reductions’ beginning in 2018,” Blue Cross NC said today.

President Trump has threatened to withhold the payments, totaling some $7 billion, and a lawsuit by House Republicans challenging the legality of the payments, which were never funded by Congress, is under appeal after a judge ruled the payments illegal. The same judge allowed the payments to continue while the appeal process plays out.

The CSRs are included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), but since all spending must originate in the House of Representatives, the Republican lawsuit argues the payments are thus unconstitutional. CSRs are designed to lower the premiums of lower-wage consumers.

Health insurance marketplace watchers have predicted all insurers will be forced to raise their premiums by 19 to 25 percent if the CSRs are dropped. The administration has agreed to continue making monthly CSR payments for the next 90 days at least.