One team of Republican senators has proposed a new attack on a major Affordable Care Act risk corridors program.
Another team of Republican senators has proposed a limited patch for the health insurer buffer program.
It’s possible that both proposals could work together, but neither would help health insurers collect on the billions of dollars the ACA risk corridors program owes them for 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has introduced S. 147, the Obamacare Taxpayer Bailout Prevention Act, a bill that would prohibit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from making any ACA risk corridors program payments.
Rubio’s bill has four Republican cosponsors: Jeff Flake of Arizona, John McCain of Arizona, Mike Lee of Utah and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana has introduced a second bill with a risk corridors program provision: S. 191, the Patient Freedom Act of 2017 bill.
S. 191 would create an optional grant program for states, using the cash that otherwise would be spent on each state’s Affordable Care Act coverage expansion programs.
A state that chose to get the S. 191 grant money, rather than let the existing ACA programs stay in place, could use some federal money to operate an exchange with a risk-adjustment program, to help compensate the insurers that ended up with more than their fair share of health risk.
A state also could set up a risk corridors program for the individual and small-group market. Under the bill, the state could not use federal funds to pay for its risk corridors program.
But, if a state were getting federal health grants for other purposes, maybe it could then use its own cash to support the risk corridors program.
Like Rubio’s bill, Cassidy’s bill has four Republican cosponsors. The S. 191 cosponsors are Susan Collins of Maine, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Risk corridors program managers had trouble collecting enough cash from thriving issuers to make the payments the program owed the struggling issuers. (Image: iStock)