Which Way for Healthcare? Unknown
Several Republican lawmakers are pushing for small repairs to support the individual insurance market as Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal efforts stall, despite threats from the White House to allow the markets to collapse.
The lack of a clear direction is the result of continuing discord in the GOP that led to the defeat of the American Health Care Act in the House. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) introduced a bill to exempt Americans who live in areas where no insurer offers individual health plans from the law's requirement to have insurance. Republicans in the House also are mulling appropriating funds to guarantee insurers still receive federal money to reduce out-of-pocket costs for poor Americans.
Many of the Republicans pursuing these changes say they hope Democrats will support their bills, because many hardline conservatives are expected to oppose them. One senator told Bloomberg BNA he is pushing for a change because he expects ACA repeal efforts to continue to stall. But President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), however, have repeatedly said they could do nothing and blame Democrats when insurers pull out of the individual markets or raise premiums. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said he is open to working with Republicans but expects Democrats to ask for concessions in return for their cooperation.
Cadillac Tax Repeal
In a related move, Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) is expected to pursue a standalone repeal of the ACA’s excise tax on so-called “overly generous” employer-sponsored health plans, known as the Cadillac tax, according to a staffer from his office. Heller is expected to join with Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) to lift the 40 percent excise tax on health plans that exceed a certain value threshold, set to begin in 2020. Repeal of the Cadillac Tax is one of PIA’s top-priority issues.