Insurance group urges Congress to boost ObamaCare subsidies

Insurance group urges Congress to boost ObamaCare subsidies

The federal government should expand ObamaCare subsidies for low income people to reduce premiums, a health insurance group said Thursday.

According to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), expanding the tax credits to give more financial assistance would help reduce premiums and ensure more people get covered.

The proposal would also impose a cap on how much a household can spend on premiums, so coverage would be more affordable.

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The group also wants to create a national reinsurance program to reduce premiums by helping insurance companies pay claims for high-cost patients.

The proposal echoes past stalled legislative efforts to stabilize the ObamaCare markets, and comes the day after House Democrats introduced "Medicare for all" legislation.

A bill introduced in 2017 by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would have funded a reinsurance program and three years of the subsidies for insurers.

But talks between Democrats and Republicans were derailed over a disagreement about the bill's treatment of abortion coverage.

Justine Handelman, BCBSA’s senior vice president Office of Policy and Representation, wouldn’t say if the proposals are the insurance group’s answer to Medicare for all.

Handelman said the group just wants to ensure people have access to affordable coverage.

“We think this is a pragmatic, incremental step,” Handelman said. “We believe it’s important to build on what’s working. We have a lot of experience in this space and we don’t want to disrupt coverage for the 180 million people who rely on coverage from their employer.”

If Congress adopted all the group's proposals, premiums on the individual market would drop an average of 33 percent. However, it would cost more than $10 billion annually, the group said.