Healthcare Reform News Update for July 12, 2017
The Senate Is Looking Into a Possible Bipartisan Bill to Reform Healthcare
Since the GOP’s healthcare bill might not pass in the Senate, many lawmakers are considering a bipartisan effort to reform healthcare. Around a half-dozen Republicans are holding discussions with Democrats about coming together to prevent the possibility of a complete collapse of small-group and individual insurance markets throughout the country.
Many Democrats see this as an opportunity to prevent a complete repeal of a key accomplishment of the Obama years. Some Republican senators, under pressure from constituents who are worried about losing their healthcare, believe a bipartisan bill could alleviate many problems. The bill’s main ideas involve creating a reinsurance fund and authorizing cost-sharing payments for [insurance companies] so they don’t have to raise prices for covering a sicker pool of customers.
Senate Republicans Will Unveil a Revised Healthcare Bill on Thursday
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) plans to unveil the details of the Senate’s healthcare reform bill tomorrow. The Senate is expected to reject this bill, according to key Republican senators such as Charles Grassley (R-IA), John McCain (R-AZ), and Susan Collins (R-ME).
GOP Drops Tax Cuts For Higher-Income Earners in Revised Health Bill
In a move designed to win over some moderate Republicans, the Senate Republican leadership is dropping its plans to remove the Affordable Care Act’s 3.8 percent tax on investment income for people who earn more than $200,000 and couples who earn more than $250,000. This could produce nearly $231 billion in revenue over a decade, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Some sources are suggesting that Senator Mitch McConnell, in closed-door talks, is negotiating with Republican holdouts about other components of healthcare spending as well. A GOP aide requesting anonymity suggested that increased Medicaid funding and increased funding to stabilize the cost of premiums for individuals might be under consideration.
Texas Senator’s Amendment Could Raise Premiums For 1.5 Million People With Pre-Existing Conditions
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is sponsoring an amendment that would give insurance companies the power to sell plans in the individual insurance market that don’t meet two major Affordable Care Act requirements (essential health benefitsand community rating). The stipulation is that insurance companies must also offer plans that do meet these ACA necessities. Many conservatives have expressed support for this amendment. They believe it would encourage insurance companies to offer cheaper insurance plans to some people.
The amendment’s critics, including Democrats and moderate Republicans, contend that the amendment would create two tiers of plans, which could allow insurance companies to entrap sick people into plans they’ll need but won’t be able to afford. Also, 1.5 million people with pre-existing conditions could face higher premiums with the amendment, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis.
Healthcare Reform News Update for July 7, 2017
If Senate’s Bill Doesn’t Pass, McConnell to Seek Stabilizing Legislation
According to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, if a full repeal and replacement of Obamacare does not occur, the Senate will have to work on a limited bill to stabilize the individual marketplace. Because this type of limited bill would not fall under reconciliation, the GOP would have to work with Democrats to pass a stabilization bill.
In a response to questions about if the GOP will need bipartisanship for healthcare reform, Senator McConnell said, “If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur.”
Senate Not Expected to Vote on Bill Immediately After July 4 Recess
Several Republican senators have said that a healthcare vote won’t happen next week.
- Senator Pat Toomey: “We’re still several weeks away from a vote, I think.”
- Senator Ted Cruz said that a vote might occur “in the next several weeks.”
- Senator Mitch McConnell also predicted that a healthcare vote would happen in a “couple weeks.”
Aetna Better Health of Illinois Threatens to Leave Illinois Medicaid Program
In a court filing last week, Aetna Better Health of Illinois said Illinois had not paid an owed amount of $698 million dollars. Company President Laurie Brubaker said last week that Aetna will pull out of Illinois’ Medicaid program if the state did not pass a budget by July 1 and pay Aetna the owed amount.
Georgia Expected to See Large Premium Hikes for 2018 Marketplace Plans
Many Georgia health insurance companies are increasing premiums as healthcare reform uncertainty continues, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, which is the only insurance company in all Georgia counties. Companies are seeking these average premium increases:
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia: 40%
- Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia: 25%
- Alliant: 18.6%
- Ambetter of Peach State: 12.4%