Maine Medicine Weekly Update - 03/19/2018 (Plain Text Version)
In this issue:
Congress Confronts Another Must-Pass Spending Bill Deadline: March 23rd
Congress must act on a temporary spending bill again this week as the previous funding bill expires on Friday, March 23. Discussions continue about whether and how to stabilize the ACA insurance markets and it is possible that a new Collins/Alexander proposal will be included, but the proposal faces significant hurdles.
It has been reported in the media that Senators Susan Collins and Lamar Alexander have developed a new insurance market stabilization package with the following features:
1. Funding for cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments for 3 years.
2. Ten billion dollars in annual re-insurance funding, also to last three years.
3. Additional 1332 waiver flexibility for Medicaid.
4. Expanded eligibility for catastrophic plans.
The bill may also include an additional requirement that federal funds could not be used for plans that cover abortion services.
A recent study by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that federal reinsurance funds would significantly reduce premiums for 2019 and beyond. It is estimated that the provisions in the new proposal could reduce premiums by 10% in 2019, 20% in 2020 and 2021 for states that receive reinsurance funding. Without some market stabilization, rates in 2019 are expected to increase significantly particularly in those states that are now approving non-ACA plans.
The abortion issue as well as the concern of some Republican lawmakers that the reinsurance is a "bailout" to insurance companies threaten to derail the effort to stabilize the markets as the 2019 rates are being worked on.