Congress Mulls Healthcare Stabilization Efforts

After President Trump announced his intention to scrap health insurance marketplace subsidies via executive order earlier this month, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced a bipartisan bill entitled, “the Health Care Stabilization Act of 2017” in an attempt to stabilize the marketplace. Insurer subsidies reimburse health insurance companies that reduce cost-sharing for lower-income Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace enrollees. Many critics of the executive order state that without insurer subsidies, millions of individuals would not be able to afford coverage. The bipartisan bill, which has 24 co-sponsors (12 Republican and 12 Democrat), would give states more funding flexibility to establish insurance stability funds and would provide expedited approval of Section 1332 state innovation waivers.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill could reduce the deficit by $3.8 million over the next 10 years. The CBO report also states that appropriating funds for cost-sharing reductions (CSRs), which the bill requires, would not affect direct spending or revenues relative to the current baseline projections.

In response to the Murray/Alexander legislation, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) have announced that they will release legislation that extends the CSR program for two years, but repeals ACA mandates. The Ways and Means Committee has issued a press release.