Bipartisan Deal to Stabilize ACA Insurance Markets Announced
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Thursday, October 19, 2017 08:47 AM

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) reached a tentative deal on legislation to stabilize the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) health insurance marketplaces.

Alexander and Murray, the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee, have been talking about a deal for several months, but announced on Sept. 19th that they had reach an impasse; that was shortly before the Senate was due to vote on a bill by senators Bill Cassidy, MD (R-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to repeal and replace the ACA. But after that vote was canceled due to a lack of support from key Senate Republicans, Murray and Alexander resumed their discussions.

The impetus for continued talks gained additional momentum last week when the administration terminated the CSR payments -- which some observers speculated was President Trump's intent, although he did not say so publicly. Trump also had signed a controversial executive order that would allow formation of so-called association health plans that could operate across state lines.

The deal involves continuing for 2 years the law's cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, which help insurers assist low-income enrollees in paying their copayments and deductibles. The White House had been making those payments, which amount to about $7 billion annually, but President Trump discontinued them last week. It also involves allowing states to make “meaningful" changes to coverage requirements on their own insurance exchanges.

The senators said their arrangement was still being finalized and that some barriers remain. At least one: “The definition of ‘meaningful.'"

President Trump himself sounded optimistic about the talks. “Democrats [and] Republicans are meeting right now, and right now they're working on something very special," he said.


Source: https://www.medpagetoday.com/PublicHealthPolicy/repeal-and-replace/68612