Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate reached a bipartisan deal “in principle” to restore Obamacare cost-sharing reduction payments for two years in exchange for more state flexibility in the health care act. The proposed plan would also restore more than $100 million in funding for health care outreach.
The bipartisan bill gained momentum later in the week with 24 co-sponsors to the legislation. President Trump has suggested he was “open” to authorizing payments to insurers that help offset out-of-pocket health costs in the short term — but had not given up his goal of repealing the ACA.
The short-term solution would allow insurers to offer catastrophic insurance plans to consumers ages 30 and older on the exchanges, while maintaining a single-risk pool, meanwhile also making it easier for states to obtain waivers to customize health plan rules to their needs by speeding up administration approval of the waivers and allow states to copy provisions in waivers that were already approved. This could also provide a reprieve for the Affordable Care Act that would prevent 2018 premiums from increasing as much as previously predicted. However, consumers in many states will still face double-digit rate increases, and in many counties, health plans will be available from only one insurance company.
The proposed legislation would not allow states to change the essential benefits insurers are now required to offer individuals and small businesses under the ACA or let insurers discriminate against consumers with preexisting conditions for the next two years.
The Medical Association will continue to monitor the progress of this proposed legislation and is eager to work with lawmakers toward a positive solution.