Groups press senators for two years of ObamaCare subsidy funding

Groups press senators for two years of ObamaCare subsidy funding
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The Senate’s bipartisan health care bill needs to fund ObamaCare’s subsidy payments for at least two years, insurers, hospitals and other stakeholder groups said Tuesday.

In a letter to the Senate Health Committee, groups including America’s Health Insurance Plans, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association said Congress needs to fund cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments through at least 2019.

“Without two years of CSR funding, uncertainty will persist and the Congress will need to address these same issues early next year,” the groups wrote. “By committing to CSR funding for two years, it would go a long way to bring much needed stability to the individual market and promote access to more affordable coverage and choices for millions of Americans."

The letter is part of a concerted push by insurers and health care providers to secure the funding ahead of a series of bipartisan Health Committee hearings that begin tomorrow.

The committee’s chairman, Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderDems blast Trump rule changes on ObamaCare Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senate blocks Dem measure on short-term health plans | Trump signs bill banning drug price 'gag clauses' | DOJ approves Aetna-CVS merger | Juul ramps up lobbying Trump signs bills banning drug pricing 'gag clauses' MORE (R-Tenn.), and the panel’s ranking member, Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: House passes funding bill | Congress gets deal on opioids package | 80K people died in US from flu last winter Wilkie vows no 'inappropriate influence' at VA Dems push back on using federal funds to arm teachers MORE (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 health care plans.

Democrats want to provide funding for the payments for multiple years, while Alexander backs just one year.

CSR payments compensate insurers for lowering the out-of-pocket costs of certain enrollees. Insurers have said premiums would increase if the federal government stops the funds, which total $7 billion for fiscal year 2017.

Insurance carriers have been asking for certainty that they will receive the funding, as the administration continues to fund the payments on a monthly basis.