The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee has officially scheduled the first of its bipartisan healthcare hearings on market stability. The first hearing will be on September 6 with state insurance commissioners from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington, and the second hearing will be on September 7 with Governors Charlie Baker (R-MA), Steve Bullock (D-MT), Bill Haslam (R-TN), Gary Herbert (R-UT) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO). The primary purpose of the hearings is to learn from state policymakers how Congress can make insurance more affordable and available for parts of the country with limited carrier participation.
The setting of the September hearings featuring a full panel of insurance commissioners and a full panel of governors is in contrast to the single hearing the HELP Committee held in February. The hearing titled “Obamacare Emergency: Stabilizing the Individual Health Insurance Market” comprised of insurance industry stakeholders, including NAHU CEO Janet Trautwein, AHIP CEO Marilyn Tavenner, former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, and Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. With the ever increasing focus of what can be shifted from federal to state oversight in the evolving realm of health reform, it is not surprising that the hearings taking place next month are focusing on the input of state insurance commissioners and governors. There is some expectation that a third hearing will be scheduled with insurance industry stakeholders, such as NAHU, to follow up on the statements of the insurance commissioners and governors to identify common themes that can be agreed upon between state policymakers and insurance industry stakeholders for market stability.
HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) intends to work with lawmakers to advance a stabilization package by the end of September that would fund the ACA’s cost sharing reduction (CSR) program and provide more flexibility for approving insurance plans through changes made under the ACA’s Section 1332 waiver program.