ACA stabilization package would boost coverage, lower premiums on individuals

A pair of bills to fund the Affordable Care Act’s cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies and create a new reinsurance program would lower monthly premiums for exchange plans by 20 to 40 percent and boost enrollment by 3.2 million people. Conservative groups, however, call the legislation a “bailout” for insurance companies.

The analysis came from Oliver Wyman and was touted by the Republicans sponsors of bills, Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, saying it “further demonstrates that our bipartisan proposals will help drive down premiums in the individual market and make health insurance more affordable for millions of Americans.”

The Washington Post reports the stabilization bills—which were first promised to be considered late in 2017—remain in political limbo. Democrats don’t like Republican efforts to chip away at the ACA through piecemeal legislation and regulatory action, while Republicans are divided over how to deal with the ACA since full repeal has been taken off the table.

Demonstrating the intraparty split, conservative groups like Heritage Action and FreedomWorks have written to congressional leaders saying the extra money would “do nothing to address the real reasons premiums and deductibles are rising,” which they blame on the ACA’s regulations and subsidies.

“The same insurers who are lobbying for bailout money this year will be back again when funding expires, threatening to withdraw from the exchanges or raise premiums if bailouts aren’t extended,” they wrote.

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