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Healthcare Reform News Update for August 23, 2017

Healthcare Reform News Update for August 23, 2017

Ohio, Colorado Governors Plot ACA Fixes

Ohio Governor John Kasich and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper are creating their own proposals to fix the individual marketplace. The governors’ plans are expected to be released as soon as next week and could include:

  • Ensuring cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments
  • Creating a reinsurance program
  • Increasing the threshold for the employer mandate

State Insurance Commissioners, Governors to Weigh in on Healthcare

The Senate Health Committee will start September with hearings from state insurance commissioners and governors. The committee is conducting these hearings to create legislation that will stabilize the individual marketplace. The state insurance commissioners are scheduled to testify September 6, and the governors are scheduled for September 7.

On Tuesday, Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) explained, “At these hearings, we will hear testimony from state insurance commissioners and governors—those closest to the problem—on steps Congress can take to help make insurance available at affordable prices. Any solution that Congress passes for a 2018 stabilization package will have to be small, bipartisan, and balanced.”

Healthcare Reform News Update for August 21, 2017

Iowa, Oklahoma Aim to Reform ACA Via Healthcare Waivers

Officials in Iowa are planning to submit a vast state healthcare waiver request to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) next week. The waiver would alter the “ACA premium tax credit model and use some of the federal subsidy money to set up a reinsurance program to protect insurers that sign up high-cost enrollees.”

Oklahoma officials filed a state waiver request to CMS last Wednesday. The waiver would “use federal subsidy money to fund a new reinsurance program, as the first step in a broader reform of the ACA coverage system.” The waiver also wants to change the ACA’s essential benefit requirements for individual coverage.

Both state waiver requests include replacing federal marketplaces with state-based platforms and changing the income eligibility for premium subsidies. They also share a main goal of lowering premiums and stabilizing the individual marketplace.

Healthcare Reform News Update for August 17, 2017

Iowa’s Single Remaining ACA Insurer Seeks Rate Hike

Medica, the only insurance company offering Obamacare marketplace plans in Iowa, has filed a revised premium rate increase of almost 57 percent. Medica cited uncertainty over cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments as the reason for steep premium rate increases.

Geoff Bartsh, Medica’s vice president of individual and family business, said in a statement: “We remain hopeful the federal government will fund the cost-sharing reductions, but we are working with the Iowa Insurance Division to help consumers understand the implications of lack of this funding. We regret the disruption this creates for consumers.”

Trump Will Make August CSR Payments

August’s cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments will be made to insurers, according to a White House spokesperson. However, no guarantee was made for future payments. An update on the CSR case (on whether or not the payments are constitutional) is expected Sunday, though it could get delayed again.

Healthcare Reform News Update for August 16, 2017

CBO Analysis Shows Impact of Ending CSR Payments

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an analysis Tuesday titled “The Effects of Terminating Payments for Cost-Sharing Reductions.” Here are the overall effects noted in the analysis:

  • Ending CSRs would increase the deficit by $194 billion over the next 10 years.
  • The number of areas with no marketplace options (5 percent of Americans) would increase during the next two years and be about the same as it is now in 2020.
  • The average premium for a marketplace silver plan will increase by 20 percent in 2018 and 25 percent in 2020.
    • The premium increases will also expand the amount of premium tax credits, raising spending on subsidies by $365 billion over the next 10 years.
    • The majority of people using premium tax credits (subsidies) will pay the same amount in premiums for the next 10 years.
  • The uninsured rate would increase in 2018 but decrease slightly in 2020.

Centene Expands in Nevada to Cover ‘Bare’ Counties

Centene announced Tuesday that it will expand its individual marketplace coverage in Nevada. The company’s coverage means that no counties in Nevada, including rural areas, will be without a marketplace option. After Centene’s expansion, only 2 counties in the nation are currently left without a 2018 marketplace option: one county in Ohio and one in Wisconsin.

Healthcare Reform News Update for August 14, 2017

GOP Representatives Working on Marketplace Stabilization Bill

Representatives Mark Meadows (R-NC), chair of the Freedom Caucus, and Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), former chair of the Tuesday Group, are working together to create a marketplace stabilization bill. The bill is likely to fund cost-sharing reduction subsidies. Additionally, it may allow states to waive Obamacare regulations.

In relation to the bill, MacArthur said in a statement, “I’ve been working on a plan that will lower the cost of premiums, while stabilizing the individual marketplace, so that we can provide Americans with the high quality and affordable healthcare they deserve.”

CBO Analysis to Show Effects of Ending Insurer Payments

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) announced Friday that it will release an analysis this week “detailing the effects of ending key Obamacare insurer payments,” also known as cost-sharing reduction (CSRs) payments. The president recently threatened to discontinue these payments, which help insurance companies lower out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles and copays.

CMS Extends Deadline for 2018 Rate Requests

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced Thursday that it would extend the Obamacare marketplace filing deadline. The deadline was extended by three weeks, making the new date September 5 and the final deadline September 20.

Anthem Exits Virginia’s Individual Marketplace

Health insurer Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield announced Friday that it will stop offering individual marketplace plansfor Virginia in 2018. The insurer cites the uncertainty in Washington as the reason for its departure. This is the third insurance company to exit Virginia’s ACA marketplace.

Healthcare Reform News Update for August 11, 2017

Freedom Caucus to Petition for ‘Clean Obamacare Repeal’ Bill

The conservative House Freedom Caucus is planning to file a petition Friday in order to influence House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to “bring up a so-called ‘clean Obamacare repeal’ bill.” The bill would repeal Obamacare after a transition of two years. However, the same bill failed in the Senate last month.

Kaiser Family Foundation Publishes 2018 Premium Preview

On Tuesday, the Kaiser Family Foundation published “An Early Look at 2018 Premium Changes and Insurer Participation on ACA Exchanges.” The study looks at initial premium rate charges and insurance companies’ participation in the marketplace for 2018 and makes comparisons to previous years. From the report: “In the past, requested premiums have been similar, if not equal to, the rates insurers ultimately charge. This year, because of the uncertainty insurers face over whether the individual mandate will be enforced or cost-sharing subsidy payments will be made, some companies have included an additional rate increase in their initial rate requests, while other companies have said they may revise their premiums late in the process.”

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