Murphycare could look a lot like Obamacare.
Lawmakers Thursday sent to Gov. Phil Murphy a bill that will require nearly all New Jerseyans to have health insurance or pay a penalty in a bid to stabilize premiums for consumers in the Obamacare marketplace.
They approved another bill that would set up a reinsurance plan that would partly be paid for by the federal government and cover some of the most expensive health care claims.
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Senators looking for ways to stabilize the individual health insurance market will hear from governors and state health insurance commissioners at their first bipartisan hearings next month.
The hearings, set for Sept. 6-7, will focus on stabilizing premiums and helping people in the individual market in light of Congress’ failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
“Eighteen million Americans, including 350,000 Tennesseans – songwriters, farmers, and the self-employed – do not get their health insurance from the government or on the job, which means they must buy insurance in the individual market,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
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With the House on recess and the Senate’s leader saying it’s time to move on, a bipartisan group of more than 40 House members said Monday that Congress needs to act quickly to stabilize the individual health insurance market.
A five-point plan from the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus would abandon any pretense of repealing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, while boosting spending, repealing one tax, and relaxing regulations.
The caucus, co-chaired by Republican Rep. Tom Reed of New York and Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, is built around an agreement that once members reach consensus on issues, they pledge to vote as a bloc.
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Rep. Mark Meadows intends to deliver an Obamacare repeal and replacement plan to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on Tuesday that would leave in place the existing law’s mandates for insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions.
“What I’m getting to him is based on conversations that I’ve had with (Tuesday Group co-chairman) Tom MacArthur and leadership, but I wouldn’t say that it’s approved at this point,” Meadows, chairman of the Freedom Caucus, told USA TODAY. “What we’re trying to do is work through issues that are important to all of us but make sure that pre-existing conditions are taken care of.”
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Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price holds broad authority over administration of the Affordable Care Act, including the power to give additional flexibility to states and insurers under the law. Section 1332 of the ACA allows HHS to offer “state innovation waivers” for that allow states to waive some (but not all) of Obamacare’s insurance regulations in return for a block grant of ACA funding. States that want to keep the ACA status quo could do so, while Republican-led states could go in a different direction.
An approach that started with 1332 waivers and layered on additional legislative reforms would allow both the more conservative and moderate members of the GOP to declare victors, because the states themselves would be put back in charge of their own health insurance markets.
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President Trump expressed confidence Sunday that he and aides can resurrect their attempt to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law.
Trump tweeted: “Anybody (especially Fake News media) who thinks that Repeal & Replace of ObamaCare is dead does not know the love and strength in R Party!”
He also tweeted: “Talks on Repealing and Replacing ObamaCare are, and have been, going on, and will continue until such time as a deal is hopefully struck.”
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Conservatives make a mistake if they assume Americans went to the voting booth with a specific desire to see the 2015 partial ObamaCare repeal bill passed. In fact, Trump and GOP majorities were elected to solve a problem — making quality, affordable healthcare more than an empty slogan — and now the GOP needs to deliver. They recommend, among other proposals, legislation to give states more power and resources to create insurance market with real choices and lower premiums, including allowing insurers to sell more flexible plans than ObamaCare allows, continuing protections for those with pre-existing conditions, and making coverage affordable for those who truly need help.
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Federal regulators Thursday night extended the midnight deadline for Affordable Care Act insurance by four days, as consumers fought to get through to call center operators and log onto Healthcare.gov to buy insurance that takes effect Jan. 1.
“Nearly a million consumers have left their contact information to hold their place in line,” Healthcare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan said in a statement late Thursday. “Our goal is to provide affordable coverage to everyone seeking it before the deadline, and these two additional business days will give consumers an opportunity to come back and complete their enrollment for January 1 coverage.”
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As open enrollment starts Tuesday on the Affordable Care Act exchanges, consumers in some parts of the country are bracing for huge rate hikes, while many others are preparing to change insurers and likely doctors.
The crazy quilt of 2017 changes is creating angst among both supporters of the law and consumers under 65 who don’t get their insurance through work. And it comes as enrollment needs a big boost, especially of younger, healthier people to help offset insurers’ costs of covering the sicker people who have signed up so far.
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State insurance regulators across the country have approved health care premium increases higher than those requested by insurers, despite a national effort to keep rates for policies sold on Affordable Care Act exchanges from skyrocketing, a USA TODAY analysis shows.
In eight states, regulators approved premiums that were a percentage point or more higher than carriers wanted, said Charles Gaba, a health data expert at ACASignups.net who analyzed the rates for USA TODAY. As of Tuesday, those states are Arizona, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota and Utah.
Pennsylvania regulators approved individual plan rate increases Monday of 33%, which is eight points higher than requested. Two insurers — Keystone Health Plan and Geisinger Quality Option — will also no longer offer plans on the ACA exchange for the state.
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