Lower than expected enrollment, rising premiums, and declining issuer participation have led to an increased focus by state and federal policymakers on stabilizing the individual health insurance market. Legislative proposals aimed at addressing these concerns are currently being discussed. Assuming the package of proposals were approved by Congress and issuers were permitted and willing to refile rates for the 2018 plan year, a combination of these policies may lead to the reduction of individual market premiums—as compared to current law–by 13% to 17% for 2018, driven primarily by the reinsurance program as well as the continued Health Insurance Tax moratorium.

. . .

Chen and Weinberg recently conducted an analysis of international health systems and concluded that single-payer advocates are substantially overstating the prevalence and success of such systems. While many other countries have universal health systems and feature more government control over individual health care decisions, almost none are actually single-payer. And all of them are wrestling with largely the same challenges Americans are, making different but equally difficult trade-offs on cost, quality and access.

. . .

Sen. Patty Murray has agreed to a key demand of Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which could potentially move bipartisan health care talks forward. Murray has agreed to “significant state flexibility” in order to reach an agreement, per a senior Democratic aide.

. . .

Senate Republicans’ last-gasp Obamacare repeal effort is gaining steam, with key senators who tanked the last push in July signaling new openness to the latest attempt and GOP leaders growing increasingly bullish.

While the proposal written by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) remains short of 50 votes, it also has just one hard “no” vote, from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, and another expected “no” in Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. Three “no” votes would kill the bill, but in an encouraging sign for repeal proponents, no one is stepping forward yet to deliver that final nail.

. . .

Unless Republicans can agree by Sept. 30, they won’t be able to pass a bill without 60 Senate votes. Here’s a wild idea: Instead of repealing ObamaCare, make it unconstitutional. Recall how the Supreme Court split when it upheld ObamaCare in 2012. What broke the tie was a novel opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, who upheld the law’s individual mandate by declaring it a tax. The GOP can take advantage of that premise and pass a two-page bill clarifying that Congress did not intend to use its taxing power to enforce the individual mandate and disavows the same going forward. Congress could state that it intends ObamaCare to contain no severability provision—meaning that, as the four dissenting justices agreed in 2012, the entire law must fall if the mandate is unconstitutional.

. . .

Kaiser’s tracking poll in July found 53 percent in favor of having all Americans get their health insurance from the government; 43 percent were against that. Opposition climbed to 60 percent when people were asked to consider that such a plan would call for higher taxes for many.

. . .

A true single-payer health care system would mean the discontinuation of employer-sponsored health insurance. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ new single-payer proposal proceeds along these lines, making it unlawful for employers to duplicate the offerings of the new single-payer system once that system is fully phased in. However, a truly single-payer framework is not the only approach policymakers could take.

Dr. Tevi Troy, author of the paper and CEO of the American Health Policy Institute, says, “The federal government would be taking on the responsibility of providing health care to all Americans, a change so drastic with consequences ultimately so uncertain that it seems unlikely to win a majority of votes in Congress, especially considering how politically unfeasible it has proven on a much smaller scale even in very liberal states like Vermont.”

. . .

Anthem announced Friday that it would fill Virginia’s 63 counties that were slated to have no ObamaCare insurers on the exchange next year.

Anthem initially announced it wouldn’t sell plans in Virginia in 2018, but backtracked Friday to cover the so-called bare counties.

“Since learning that 63 counties and cities in Virginia would not have access to Individual health plans, Anthem has been engaged in further evaluation and discussion with regulators to ensure that no bare counties or cities exist in the state,” Anthem said in a statement Friday.

. . .

New Mexico Health Connections, a not-for-profit insurance co-op funded through the Affordable Care Act, is a month overdue in filing its second-quarter financial paperwork. And the co-op’s most recent documents, as well as federal ACA documents, show potentially large financial problems that could force New Mexico to shut the company down. This could be another potential black eye for the ACA’s co-op program, in which 19 of 23 companies have already gone under.

. . .

Like the Better Care Reconciliation Act, Graham-Cassidy would repeal Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates. Both bills increase annual contributions to health savings accounts. Both bills phase down state-based Medicaid provider taxes that states use to game the federal government into giving them more money than they’re supposed to get. Both bills allow states the ability to frequently cull their Medicaid rolls of ineligible recipients—something they can’t do today.

The bill would institute a per-capita allotment for the legacy Medicaid program that is quite similar to the one in the BCRA. This per-capita approach is essential to ensuring that Medicaid is fiscally sustainable in the future. Both bills allow states to institute work requirements for Medicaid.

. . .