Senate Attempts to Stabilize Healthcare with Bipartisan Agreement

  

Yesterday, Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) announced they had reached a short-term deal bipartisan healthcare legislation. This legislation would stabilize individual insurance markets and protect patients and families from premium spikes and uncertainty caused by the Trump Administration’s two decisions last week intended to destabilize the ACA marketplaces.

The deal negotiated by Alexander and Murray would fund payments to help lower costs for families, provide added flexibility to states, protect essential health benefits for patients, and restore investments for open enrollment outreach.

The bill would:

  • Restore Cost-Sharing Reduction payments and the certainty that is crucial to continued market stability and affordability for families. Insurers have raised rates by as much as 30% because of the uncertainty around CSR payments and continue to threaten exit from insurance markets.
  • Restore certainty to health care markets by ensuring CSRs will continue through 2017, 2018, and 2019.
  • Include steps to ensure 2018 enrollees receive the financial benefit of CSRs for the coming year.
  • Require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to increase funding for outreach and enrollment assistance activities for 2018 and 2019; this is a top priority for ANA with Open Enrollment beginning November 1.
  • Put in place extensive reporting requirements to make sure HHS is held accountable for implementing Open Enrollment in 2018 and 2019.

Most importantly, the bill would generally keep in place essential health benefits and protections for pre-existing conditions with the exception of consumers who qualify for catastrophic plans.

The legislation will need 60 votes to pass through the Senate and ultimately Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will determine if the bill goes to the floor for a vote. In addition, lawmakers will need to convince the President that this bill will benefit the consumer and not the insurers. To date, the President has responded with mixed reviews.

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