Give States $50 Billion to Help Stabilize Obamacare Markets


Stabilizing the faltering Obamacare marketplaces will be a top priority for the Trump administration, and states need $40 billion to $50 billion over the next three years to help do that.

That’s the view of a group that represents employers, insurers, health-care providers and patient groups.

About 20 million people have gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and Trump needs to act quickly to make sure they don’t lose coverage in the face of uncertainty about Republican efforts to repeal and replace the law, Joel White, president of the Council for Affordable Health Coverage said at a recent congressional staff briefing I attended.

The individual health insurance market is in turmoil with premiums and out-of-pocket costs increasing sharply in 2017 and fewer plan choices due to some major national health insurers exiting the marketplaces, White said.

The approximately 10 million people who signed up for the ACA exchanges are older and sicker than was expected, which has led to higher costs for the health plans. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called for funding high-risk pools to cover people with expensive medical conditions such as cancer and hemophilia in his Better Way health plan.

“Because we see a very high-risk pool at the federal level with those 10 million people—sicker, older people—we need to stabilize that risk,” White said.

The Trump administration should also delay the date by which health insurers must file rates for their 2018 plans on the federal exchange to give them more time to make decisions about whether to participate in the exchanges, White said.

“They can do that regulatorily; they could do it on Day One,” White said. He suggested pushing the deadline back until August instead of the current deadline in the spring.

“If there’s this continued uncertainty about what happens in the marketplace, a lot of plans will just say forget it. I don’t need to participate, and they might sit on the sidelines in 2018,” White said.

Read my story here.

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