Obamacare Stabilization Plan Faltering

Obamacare supporters have been calling for Congress to get behind a plan to stabilize the individual health insurance markets, which have seen double-digit premium increases and fewer insurer participants for the past two years.

But a stabilization plan backed by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), and Rep. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) appears to be losing its chance to get on the last train out of the station.

The plan includes $30.5 billion of reinsurance funding for insurers to cover high-claims cost exchange enrollees, funding for the cost-sharing reductions for low-income people through 2021, greater flexibility for states to come up with new coverage plans, a provision allowing everyone to buy catastrophic coverage, and a requirement that the Department of Health and Human Services issue regulations allowing insurers to sell plans across state lines.

The plan would reduce premiums in the individual market about 10 percent in 2019, on average, and in 2020 and 2021 premiums would be about 20 percent lower, according to a March 19 report from the Congressional Budget Office.

Democrats opposed language in the proposal restricting money from going to plans that cover abortions, and Obamacare supporters now oppose funding the cost-sharing reductions.

Since the Trump administration stopped the payments to insurers to cover subsidies for out-of-pocket expenses for low-income people in 2017, premium subsidy payments have risen. ACA supporters now argue that funding the cost-sharing subsidies would cause premiums to rise for many people buying coverage through the exchanges.

But the health insurance industry still is pushing for a stabilization plan. Centene Corp., which has specialized in Medicaid managed care plans and has the largest number of members in the Obamacare exchanges, told me that even though 93 percent of its members receive premium tax credits to help pay their premiums, “the Marketplace is unaffordable for many Americans who are not eligible for subsidies and passing CSRs and Reinsurance would decrease their premiums up to 40 percent in some regions.”

Read my full article here.

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