Iowa submits final request to shore up ObamaCare markets

Iowa submits final request to shore up ObamaCare markets
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Iowa on Tuesday submitted to the federal government a final request to make changes to try to shore up its struggling ObamaCare insurance marketplace.

The plan from the Iowa Insurance Division is intended to be a short-term market stabilization solution to entice more insurers into the marketplace. The state is facing what it calls a “collapse” of its ObamaCare marketplace after all but one insurer declined to offer plans for 2018.

Iowa officials are asking the Trump administration to rewrite ObamaCare rules to give them emergency authority to make changes to the law in their state.

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield — the state’s largest insurer — has said it would return to the marketplace if the stopgap measure is approved.

State health officials want to reallocate hundreds of millions of federal dollars to help insurers pay for high-cost claims, as well as revamp the structure of federal tax credits that help people afford insurance.

The hope is that changing the tax credits would encourage a larger number of younger, healthier people to purchase insurance and help spread out costs. 

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The tax credits would provide a fixed level of financial assistance based on age and income. That’s in contrast with ObamaCare’s subsidies that are tied to the cost of health insurance plans.

“In Iowa, we face an immediate collapsing market. ... Iowans deserve a healthcare system that better serves their needs,” Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) wrote in the application.

Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen requested “timely approval” of the application so the state can implement it in time for open enrollment, starting Nov. 1. His request was echoed by the state’s Republican congressional delegates.

In a statement, Ommen said without the “Stopgap Measure,” 20,000 Iowans will be unable to afford insurance because of skyrocketing premium costs.

Iowa's only remaining ObamaCare insurer, Medica, has requested a 57 percent rate increase for 2018 due to uncertainty over how the Trump administration will handle the future of ObamaCare.