For months, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) have been working on a market stabilization bill that would fund the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and include other provisions to keep insurers in the markets. The stabilization bill was tabled when the Graham-Cassidy legislation was being considered, but now that efforts to repeal the ACA have stalled, Senators Alexander and Murray this week released the text of their bipartisan compromise. So far, 24 Senators have co-sponsored the bill, with a dozen of those co-sponsors being Republican Senators.
The Alexander-Murray bill rebukes the Administration’s efforts to undermine the ACA by funding the CSR payments through 2019 and restoring $106 million of the funding for enrollment outreach over the same time period. In exchange for these stabilization policies, states will have more flexibility to shape their own health care systems.
As Vox explains, states would have to jump through fewer hoops for ACA waivers and approvals would be streamlined. The bill allows state flexibility regarding waivers, but retains critical patient protections, as states would not be allowed to waive essential health benefits or discriminate based on pre-existing conditions. Dylan Scott of Vox writes, “Looking ahead to 2019, the deal would undoubtedly provide more stability to the ACA markets, which were reaching an equilibrium before Trump intervened. The cost-sharing payments would be guaranteed, and plans would know that tens of millions of dollars would be spent on Obamacare outreach.”
Since the release of the bill text, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), American Hospital Association (AHA), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the American Academy of Family Physicians have announced support of the legislation stating that patients and consumers benefit from more affordable health care and additional choices in a stable individual health insurance market. A bipartisan group of governors have announced their support for the bill, as have many advocacy and patient groups.
NCCS believes the Alexander-Murray agreement is an important step forward in moving Congress toward bipartisan action on health care and away from damaging efforts to repeal the ACA and taking coverage away from millions of people. The bill rebukes the Administration’s efforts to undermine the ACA and would help to stabilize the marketplace. NCCS and nearly 30 cancer advocacy organizations, representing patients, physicians, nurses, and social workers have joined together to support the legislation.
Please contact your Members of Congress and ask them to support the Alexander-Murray bipartisan stabilization bill by calling our hotline at (844) 257-6227.
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