SPONSORED:

CBO: Bill to shore up ObamaCare would reduce premiums by 10 percent

CBO: Bill to shore up ObamaCare would reduce premiums by 10 percent
© Getty Images

An updated bill to shore up ObamaCare's markets could reduce premiums by 10 percent next year and by 20 percent in 2020 and 2021 for states that get extra funding from the administration, according to preliminary estimates from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). 

The bill, originally introduced last year by Sens. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderSenate Health Committee chair asks Cuomo, Newsom to 'stop second guessing' FDA on vaccine efficacy The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Two weeks out, Trump attempts to rally the base McConnell aims for unity amid growing divisions with Trump MORE (R-Tenn.) and Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayPlaintiff and defendant from Obergefell v. Hodges unite to oppose Barrett's confirmation Overnight Health Care: Trump takes criticism of Fauci to a new level | GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci | Birx confronted Pence about Atlas Government watchdog to investigate allegations of Trump interference at CDC, FDA MORE (D-Wash.), could be added to a long-term spending package Congress hopes to pass next week. 

Alexander and Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsHouse Judiciary Republicans mockingly tweet 'Happy Birthday' to Hillary Clinton after Barrett confirmation Barrett sworn in as Supreme Court justice by Thomas Roberts to administer judicial oath to Barrett Tuesday MORE (R-Maine) made several changes to the bill since it was introduced in October to gain support from House Republicans, including an added requirement that funds not be used for plans that cover abortions.

ADVERTISEMENT

A Murray aide said she is continuing to negotiate with Alexander. Murray has previously called the abortion restrictions a "no go."

“Sen. Murray is continuing to negotiate with Chairman Alexander and is hopeful Republicans will agree soon to policies that help bring down premiums and undo some of the damage Republican health care sabotage has caused, rather than once again putting partisan ideology and politics ahead of families’ health," an aide said.

Other changes in the bill include $30 billion for three years of funding for reinsurance and invisible high risk programs — intended to help insurers cover the costs of especially sick and costly patients in an effort to bring down premiums for everyone else — and three years of key ObamaCare payments called cost sharing reduction subsidies (CSRs). Those subsidies reimburse insurers for giving discounted copays and deductibles to low-income patients. 

Previous versions of the bill only funded two years of CSRs and did not include funds for reinsurance.

Democrats wanted three years of CSR payments, and Collins pushed for reinsurance funding to mitigate the effects of repealing ObamaCare's individual mandate. Republicans repealed the mandate in their tax-cut law.

ADVERTISEMENT

The revised bill would also allow states more flexibility to design their own health plans and would streamline the process for getting approval from the federal government to do so. 

It would also allow the sale of catastrophic insurance plans to all Americans regardless of age. 

These plans, which tend to have lower premiums than other ObamaCare plans, have higher out-of-pocket costs and are currently only available for those under the age of 30. 

Alexander said Tuesday he is "working hard" to get the bill in the omnibus next week. 

However, it's still unclear if the proposal has the support needed to pass. 

Democrats oppose the added abortion restrictions, but Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats MORE (R-Wis.) told members he would not bring the bill up for a vote in the House without them.

Despite the addition of abortion language, some conservatives in the House have been resistant to the idea of stabilizing ObamaCare, calling the plan a "bailout" for insurance companies.