ACA Update | August 4, 2017: After Repeal Failure, Focus Turns to Cost-Sharing Payments and Market Stabilization
Since the “skinny repeal” bill’s dramatic failure in the Senate last week, all eyes have been on critical cost-sharing payments (CSR’s) and market stabilization.
The Senate HELP Committee, led by Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-LA) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), have only weeks to address these issues, before insurance companies make their final decisions on premium rates for 2018 Obamacare plans. In a long-awaited turnaround from the past several months, they announced that committee hearings would take place to look into these issues beginning the week of September 4th.
Sen. Alexander said he supports funding CSR payments, but adds “it also should include greater flexibility for states in approving health insurance policies. Any solution that Congress passes for a 2018 stabilization package would need to be small, bipartisan and balanced.” However, reports also mention that Sen. Alexander “has proposed expanding state innovation waivers to allow states to waive ACA insurance requirements such as minimum essential health benefits.” This will undoubtedly be something to keep a close eye moving forward.
That said, as Politico reports, should Alexander and Murray get a bill through committee, it would have a strong shot at passage in the full Senate.
President Trump appears to be mulling two new ways to sabotage the Affordable Care Act: https://t.co/zQyTl4HjIg
— Vox (@voxdotcom) August 1, 2017
President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to cut off CSR’s, a move experts say could cause Obamacare markets to explode. But early this week, a federal court ruled that state attorneys general would be allowed to intervene by arguing that pulling the payments would endanger the health insurance of millions of people on the exchanges. Sarah Kliff of Vox explains the details of the CSR’s and the impact of refusing to make good on these payments.
The CSR payments help reimburse insurers for providing plans with low deductibles and low out-of-pocket costs for poorer Americans on the exchanges. These payments are not a “bailout” of insurance companies, as the president has stated. These payments reduce out-of-pocket costs for families and insurers don’t make any profit off these payments.
Over the past few months, a slew of insurers and state insurance commissions reported that without the payments, premiums on the exchanges would increase substantially in 2018, by as much as 20 percent. “The Administration has the opportunity to stabilize the health insurance market across our nation and ensure that our residents can continue to access affordable health care coverage,” the statement from the Health and Human Services Committee of the National Governors Association said.
NCCS has urged Congress to work in a bipartisan fashion to improve the ACA and health care for those living with cancer and to fund the essential CSR payments to avoid destabilizing the ACA insurance market.
Call your Senator today (844) 257-6227 and ask that Congress and the Administration do the right thing and fund cost-sharing reduction payments that help families afford health insurance.