HHS approves Alaska reinsurance program to shore up ACA market

Alaska will receive $323 million from HHS from 2018 to 2022 for a reinsurance program to offset claims from high-cost patients for the lone insurer offering coverage on its Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange.

The 1332 waiver request will see the federal government contribute $48 million in 2018, with the state adding in $11 million.

"We're still concerned for Alaska, though," CMS Administrator Seema Verma, MPH, said with the Alaska Dispatch News. "I think having just one insurer, that means that there's not choices for people in Alaska. We think that this is an important step forward to at least stabilizing the marketplace."

Verma and HHS Secretary Tom Price, MD have encouraged states to apply for “innovation waivers” to adapt to ACA requirements with reinsurance programs, or the more controversial idea of high-risk pools. Additional funding for these programs is included in the ACA repeal-and-replace proposals from the Republican-controlled House and Senate. So far, Minnesota, Iowa and Oklahoma are considering the HHS offer to form their own reinsurance programs.

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