After failing to reach an agreement at the end of four senate committee hearings last month, Senators Lamar Alexander (R – Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash) have found common ground and announced a bipartisan deal ‘in principle’ yesterday.
The agreement reinstates the cost sharing reduction payments President Trump ended last week and increases flexibility for states. During a Rose Garden press conference yesterday, Trump called the deal a “short-term solution” that would last for a year or two.
“It’ll get us over this intermediate hump,” Trump said.
What does it do?
- Reinstates funding for the Cost-Sharing Reconciliation program through 2019 – President Trump announced the end of these payments, which were expected to total $7 billion this year, last Thursday.
- Allows states to use existing 1332 waivers to approve insurance plans that are “comparably affordable” to Obamacare plans and speeds up the waiver approval process – Currently, states can only approve plans that are “as affordable as” existing Obamacare coverage. This will not allow states to avoid the ACA’s minimum requirements for what a health insurance plan must cover.
- Allows consumers over the age of 30 to buy catastrophic (AKA copper) plans -These are low-premium, high-deductible plans currently only available to consumers under the age of 30.
Although the desire to stabilize the ACA exchanges seems to be helping this deal gain acceptance from both sides of the aisle, it’s unclear if it will make it to the Senate floor. According to Politico, Alexander and Murray are currently working to gather sponsors before presenting the legislation to Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnel and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer who would determine how and whether to bring it to the Senate floor.
This morning, Trump reversed his earlier statements and opposed the deal tweeting, “I can never support bailing out ins co’s who have made a fortune with O’Care.”
Yesterday, Trump stated his team has been involved with the agreement and reinforced that it is a short-term fix. He said block grants going to states are ultimately going to be the answer. “We feel we have the votes to get block grants into the states where the states can much better manage this money,” he said.
More background on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) hearings held last month is available on our blog:
- Senate Hearings Day 1: State Insurance Commissioners Testify
- Senate Hearings Day 2: U.S. Governors Offer Recommendations
- Senate Hearings Day 3: Advocates Shed Light on State Flexibility
- Senate Hearings Day 4: Senate Hears from Health Care Stakeholders
- Senate Committee Seeking Bipartisan ‘HELP’ to Limit Premium Increases for 18M Americans Next Year
- Bipartisan Effort Concedes as Republicans Race a Ticking Clock
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