Key conservative open to insurer payments during ObamaCare transition

Key conservative open to insurer payments during ObamaCare transition
© Greg Nash

The chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus said Wednesday he would be open to funding insurance companies during a transition away from ObamaCare. 

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said during a meeting with reporters that he would be willing to continue cost-sharing subsidies and reinsurance payments during the transition if there's a long-term plan in place. 

"I would be more flexible and could swallow some short-term heartburn for longer-term fiscal responsibility," Meadows said. 

He added that while the payments are "significant" in terms of costs, it is a "minor component" when it comes to a smoother transition. 

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Insurers have warned they may drop out of the marketplace if they don't receive the payments, which would limit the coverage options for roughly 10 million people already enrolled in the system. 

The insurance market could collapse without the continued payments, which compensate insurers for offering discounts to low-income enrollees and for taking on sick, costly patients. 

Republican Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Finance: Trump says shutdown 'could happen' | Ryan, conservatives inch closer to spending deal | Senate approves motion to go to tax conference | Ryan promises 'entitlement reform' in 2018 Senate approves motion to go to tax conference House conservatives, Ryan inch closer toward spending deal MORE (Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee, indicated earlier this month that Congress may need to continue the payments to stabilize the insurance market.

“What we’re told is if we don’t act by March or April, is that in many states there won’t be an insurance company there to sell you insurance,” Alexander said. 

“It’s also an area where Republicans are going to have to do some things we may not normally do, like cost sharing or reinsurance. We may not like those things, but we may have to do those things for the next two to three years to make sure people can buy insurance.”