HEALTHCARE UPDATE: U.S. Senators Announce Bipartisan Plan To Stabilize Obamacare Marketplaces

By  //  October 18, 2017

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deal would continue CSR payments to insurers for two years

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) left above, and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the chairman and ranking member respectively of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee, reached a tentative deal on legislation to stabilize the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) health insurance marketplaces in the wake of President Donald Trump’s order to discontinue Obamacare subsidies.

A tentative bipartisan deal has been made by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) to stabilize the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA, aka Obamacare) health insurance marketplaces.

The deal involves continuing the law’s cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments for two years, which help subsidize low-income enrollees in paying their copayments and deductibles.

The federal government under the ACA had been making those payments to insurers, which amount to about $7 billion annually, but President Trump discontinued them last week.

The tentative deal also includes allowing states to make “meaningful” changes to coverage requirements on their own insurance exchanges.

According to the Associate Press, the senators said their arrangement was still being finalized and that some barriers remain. Alexander told the AP that at least one of those barriers: “The definition of ‘meaningful,'” was one of the remaining stumbling blocks.

Alexander and Murray, the chairman and ranking member respectively, of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee, reached an impasse in talks on the issue of CSR in a failing ACA in mid-September.

That was shortly before the Senate was due to vote on the Cassidy-Graham bill to repeal and replace the ACA. When that vote was cancelled due to a lack of support from key Senate Republicans, Murray and Alexander resumed their discussions.

President Trump signed a controversial executive order last week that would allow formation of so-called association health plans that could operate across state lines.

When President Trump terminated the CSR payments, the impetus for continued talks gained renewed momentum last week, with some pundits speculating that the president’s termination of CSR was intended to reignite bipartisan action in Congress to address the issue.

Trump also had signed a controversial executive order last week that would allow formation of so-called association health plans that could operate across state lines.

President Trump himself sounded optimistic about the talks. “Democrats and Republicans are meeting right now, and right now they’re working on something very special,” he said during a press conference Monday afternoon.

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