GOP leaders from both chambers of Congress want reinsurance. But they want it in different ways.
And with two different Republican measures on the table, each handling the mechanics differently, the big question is: Which one will win out if congressional Republicans go through with their plan to address stabilization in an upcoming spending bill.
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Concerned about soaring health care costs, Idaho on Wednesday revealed a plan that will allow insurance companies to sell cheap policies that ditch key provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
It’s believed to be the first state to take formal steps without prior federal approval for creating policies that do not comply with the Obama-era health care law. Health care experts say the move is legally dubious, a concern supported by internal records obtained by The Associated Press.
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The Trump administration is exploring ways to allow more Americans toqualify for exemptions from the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which goes away in 2019 but is still in effect this year. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is reportedly working on guidance that would expand “hardship” exemptions from the mandate that would apply this year, meaning they could be cited by filers preparing their 2018 taxes next year.
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Now that Congress has passed a bill funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program — more than three months after funding expired — the clock is ticking as lawmakers work at putting together a package to stabilize the individual insurance market.
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Sen. Lamar Alexander said he wants to add legislation to try to stabilize Obamacare’s insurance exchanges in a long-term spending deal, which Congress could pass as early as next month.
The comments from the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee come as Congress is nearing a government shutdown Friday, with no deal for a short-term spending deal. Senate GOP leadership and President Trump have committed to the Obamacare bills, but House GOP leadership has not.
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The skyrocketing cost of insurance and diminishing plan choices have driven Americans away from the marketplaces — not presidential malfeasance.
Even before open enrollment started November 1, Obamacare’s proponents tried to lower the public’s expectations and shift blame for the coming drop in enrollees. They predicted that President Trump’s decision to cut Obamacare’s advertising and outreach budget from $100 million to $10 million — as well as his decision to shorten the open enrollment period from 12 to six weeks — would lead to lower enrollment.
The truth is, the administration’s gymnastics have little impact on whether people purchase coverage. Those decisions are dictated by simple things like the price of a plan and how much they value the benefits it provides.
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The Trump administration is estimating there are now only 700 issuers in the individual and small group markets, which is down from 2,400 in an earlier estimate.
The CMS cited the updated figure in an information collection notice posted Jan. 8. The agency is seeking permission from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to continue collecting data annually from exchange plans about their enrollees’ risk profiles.
In an earlier version of the request submitted to the executive branch last month, the agency estimated there were 2,400 issuers in the individual and small group markets.
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The legislation’s future has been thrown into question after it was punted at the end of last month. Alexander is now pushing for the legislation to be included in a government funding package when a long-term deal on that measure is reached.
Murray and other Democrats, though, want significant changes to the bill, saying that it needs to be redone now that Republicans have destabilized health insurance markets by repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate in the tax-reform bill last month.
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Seemingly lost in the news of last week’s big tax-cut victory for the GOP was the repeal of the individual mandate — the Obamacare provision that required Americans to have health coverage or else pay a penalty. This is, to borrow a phrase from Vice President Joe Biden, a “big f***ing deal.” It is a big victory for conservatives, who disdained the mandate as government coerciveness. But from a broader perspective, the rise and fall of the mandate is yet another example of how Congress struggles to regulate the national economy.
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This study analyzes the 2018 premium increases for health insurance plans offered on the Affordable Care Act’s individual marketplaces. Specifically, it compares the 2018 premiums to the 2017 premiums by analyzing the cost changes in three different plan types by rating area: benchmark Silver, lowest-cost Bronze, and lowest-cost Gold plans. It finds:
- Benchmark plans from 2017 that are still offered in 2018, even if not as the benchmark, rose by an average of 29 percent—the highest average increase since the ACA began;
- Only 17 percent of all rating areas have the same benchmark plan as 2017;
- The average 2018 benchmark plan premium is 36 percent higher than the average 2017 benchmark plan; and
- The lowest-cost Bronze premium and the lowest-cost Gold premium both increased on average by about by 20 percent.
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