Republican governors joined with Democratic governors Thursday to ask Congress to keep the current Affordable Care Act individual health market subsidy programs in place for all of 2018 and 2019.
Gov. Gary Herbert, R-Utah, who supports the idea of changing ACA commercial health insurance programs, called for Congress to create a “glide path” to help individual health insurance issuers, and users, transition to any new system created.
“Congress needs to act today to provide immediate certainty and stability for the individual insurance market,” Herbert said.
The glide path should include continuing funding for the ACA cost-sharing reduction subsidy program, which helps low-income ACA exchange plan users pay their deductibles and coinsurance amounts, Herbert said.
The glide path should also include funding for an alternative to the temporary ACA reinsurance program, which expired at the end of 2016, Herbert said. The ACA reinsurance program used a broad-based fee on health coverage issuers to help insurers pay some of the bills for individual health coverage users with catastrophic claims.
Herbert also recommended take steps such as providing adequate individual health insurance marketing campaigns, to maximize the percentage of younger, healthier people who pay for coverage, and tightening enforcement of the current eligibility rules for special enrollment period coverage purchases, to encourage health consumers to pay for coverage all year-round, and to not wait until they get sick to pay for coverage.
Herbert gave those recommendations at a hearing on stabilizing the individual health insurance market that was organized by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
The hearing was the second in a series of four hearings the Senate HELP Committee has scheduled for this week and next on stabilizing the individual health insurance market.
The first hearing, which took place Wednesday, brought in state insurance regulators as witnesses.
In addition to Herbert, the witnesses who appeared at the Senate HELP hearing on Thursday included Charlie Baker, a Republican from Massachusetts; Steve Bullock, a Democrat from Montana; Bill Haslam, a Republican from Tennessee; and John Hickenlooper, a Democrat from Colorado.