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Congress Races to Stabilize Health Market

A bipartisan group of Senate and House members hopes to stabilize the individual insurance market by attaching a package of fixes to a temporary spending bill, due in late March...
March 7, 2018

A bipartisan group of Senate and House members hopes to stabilize the individual insurance market by attaching a package of fixes to a temporary spending bill, due in late March. The lawmakers need to act quickly as insurers have until summer to determine if they want to continue selling policies in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces. In the absence of congressional action, insurers say premiums will go up in 2019 due to the uncertainty, which in turn would raise costs for consumers and the government. Roughly 18 million people buy their own policies, both inside and outside the ACA insurance marketplaces.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) are proposing a bill to use reinsurance to avoid large losses for insurers, while a proposal by U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would guarantee insurers federal reimbursement for so-called cost-sharing reduction subsidies, which were halted in October by President Donald Trump.

It is by no means clear whether any package could gain the votes needed in the House and Senate. Most Republicans are loathe to be seen “fixing” Obamacare, although opinion polls clearly show they will be blamed for problems with the law going forward.

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