Healthcare

Groups press lawmakers to stabilize ObamaCare markets

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Nearly 100 consumer, patient and provider organizations are asking lawmakers to quickly pass a bipartisan bill to stabilize the ObamaCare insurance markets as the Senate Health Committee gears up for a series of hearings on the issue beginning Wednesday.

In a letter to Republican and Democratic leaders in both chambers of Congress, the groups specifically included three main items they’d like to see in a bill:

  1. Funding for cost-sharing reduction payments, which compensate insurers for subsidizing the out-of-pocket costs of certain ObamaCare enrollees. Carriers have been asking for certainty that they will receive the funding, as the administration continues to fund the payments on a monthly basis.
  2. The return of an ObamaCare stabilization program that helps insurers cover the cost of expensive enrollees.
  3. Funding to help with open enrollment, such as money for outreach and enrollment assistance. Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it would cut 90 percent of funding to promote the law and also slash funds for navigators, who help people sign up for insurance on the exchanges.

“Continued uncertainty about funding for cost-sharing-reduction payments, evidence of administrative attempts to undermine the law, and concerns about future Congressional attempts to repeal the [Affordable Care Act] pose a significant threat to the stability of marketplaces and the broader individual market,” wrote the groups, including Families USA, the NAACP and American Nurses Association.

“It is now time for Congress to move past attempts to repeal the ACA and cut the Medicaid program and turn its attention towards bi-partisan policies that would safeguard the stability of health insurance markets for 2018 and beyond,” they continued.

The chairman of the Senate Health Committee, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and the panel’s ranking member, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), are working to craft a bipartisan bill to stabilize the marketplaces.

Alexander has said any such legislation should fund cost-sharing reduction payments, as well as include additional flexibilities for states to approve healthcare plans.

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