A key Senate committee Wednesday launched a set of hearings intended to lead to a short-term, bipartisan bill to shore up the troubled individual health insurance market, but a diverse group of state insurance commissioners united around some solutions that were not necessarily on the table.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said at the outset of the hearing he hoped to reach consensus on “a small, bipartisan, stabilization bill” by the end of next week. But the five state officials who testified seemed to have ideas other than those Alexander has touted for the past couple of weeks.
Alexander has been floating the notion of guaranteeing insurance companies that they would be reimbursed for at least one more year for the “cost-sharing reduction” discounts they provide to enrollees with incomes under 250 percent of the federal poverty level. Insurers must make those payments under the Affordable Care Act, but the Trump administration has threatened to withhold the money owed insurers.
Commissioners said insurers in their states plan sharp rate hikes next year unless Congress removes that uncertainty by appropriating money to pay the discounts, estimated at $10 billion in 2018.
In exchange for guaranteeing the cost-sharing payments, which Democrats have sought, Alexander suggested Democrats would need to give states more flexibility to seek waivers from the rules of the federal health law to experiment with different ways to provide health insurance coverage. “Democrats will have to agree to something they may be reluctant to support,” he said. “That is called a compromise.”
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Read More: http://www.salon.com/2017/09/09/insurance-commissioners-say-help-offered-by-congress-is-not-enough-to-save-market_partner/