The Republican Party tried to destroy the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which would take health insurance away from millions of people and kill over 200,000 people over 10 years. This evil and insane action was stopped. But we are not out of danger.
As we stated in our September 2017 Health Agenda report, President Donald Trump has said he's going to end important subsidies for poor people who need health care. This will cause premiums to skyrocket and add billions to deficit.
And after months of failed attempts to repeal the ACA, the stability of the health insurance markets has been severely threatened.
However, a positive political development has happened recently that may help.
On October 19th, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander and Democratic Senator Patty Murray introduced new legislation for a bipartisan healthcare plan to stabilize the health insurance markets, with 24 cosponsors and 60 senators committed to its passage. The goal of this plan is to stabilize the insurance markets, and according to a recent CBO Report, would reduce the deficit by nearly $4 billion by 2027.
Without this legislation to stabilize the markets, premiums will continue to rise, pricing millions out of coverage. If the insurer subsidies aren't funded (because of Trump's plans to end these subsidies), insurers are likely to increase premiums, meaning the government would end up spending more on financial assistance for low-income people.
Trump has expressed openness to the Alexander-Murray proposal but has pushed for more conservative changes that Democrats aren't likely to support.
While it appears that the bill currently has enough support to pass the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he won't bring it to the floor for a vote without Trump's approval.
“This nonpartisan analysis shows that our bill provides savings and ensures that funding two years of cost-sharing payments will benefit taxpayers and low-income Americans, not insurance companies," Alexander and Murray, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Health Committee, respectively, said in a joint statement.
“Last week, an unusually large group of cosponsors—12 Republican and 12 Democratic United States Senators—released this legislation, which was based on four hearings in the Senate’s health committee plus four meetings for senators not on the committee. All in all, 60 senators participated in the process, and the sooner Congress and the president act, the better."
What Would the Bill Do?
Restore cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers for two years. President Trump announced plans to end payments to fund CSRs. The Alexander-Murray legislation would both remove any legal doubt on the status of these payments and undo the Trump Administration’s destructive announcement.
Partially restore marketplace outreach and enrollment funding for two years. The legislation requires over $100 million to be spent on outreach and enrollment activities for each of the open enrollment periods for plan years 2018 and 2019. This can include activities to educate consumers about enrollment and coverage options, as well as in-person enrollment assistance.
Allow for sale of very high-deductible “catastrophic” plans. The legislation would expand the availability of thin-coverage “catastrophic” plans, currently available only to people under age 30, to people of all ages.
Changes to 1332 Marketplace Waivers. Under the guise of giving states flexibility, the legislation makes changes to marketplace waiver (Section 1332) authority.The legislation loosens standards around 1332 waivers that allow states to modify Affordable Care Act standards for how they ensure their residents receive access to coverage and care.
Read the Bill Here
Section by Section Bill Summary
Sen. Murray Announces Bipartisan Support for Bill to Lower Costs for Patients & Families Nationwide (YouTube)
The Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act of 2017 Would Reduce the Deficit by $4 Billion
Senator Lamar Alexander
Senator Patty Murray
Press Release for Bipartisan Bill (on Lamar Alexander's site)
Press Release for Bipartisan Bill (on Patty Murray's site)
What's in the Alexander-Murray Stabilization Package? (Families USA, 10-25-17)
CBO: Bipartisan health-care bill would reduce deficit by $4B over 10 years (The Hill, 10-25-17)
Alexander, Murray press forward on health care -- with or without Trump (CNN, 10-19-17)
Alexander, Murray announce 24 cosponsors for health bill (AXIOS, 10-19-17)
RELATED WORLD FUTURE FUND REPORTS
Need for Single Payer Health Insurance
September 2017 Health Agenda