A bipartisan proposal to shore up the Affordable Care Act and guarantee the U.S. government keeps helping insurers cover low-income patients would have been something like a best-case scenario for the companies participating in the market — if it happened several months ago.
As it stands, the bill, spearheaded by Sens. Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander, has only a small chance of passing. And even if it does pass, it is unlikely to entirely mitigate the Trump administration’s active sabotage of the ACA.
This bill has the potential to help the individual insurance markets in the long run. It would commit to paying insurers cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies for two years. It would also give states more flexibility to create their own ACA fixes, restore funding for groups that help people sign up for insurance, and extend the availability of less-comprehensive and cheaper “copper” insurance plans through the ACA.
But while the effort seems to be gaining momentum in the Senate, the House and President Donald Trump still loom as potential impediments. The president has sent mixed signals: He seemed to support the effort on Tuesday and has been getting credit from senators for pushing a bipartisan solution. But then he tweeted this on Wednesday morning:
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump I am supportive of Lamar as a person & also of the process, but I can never support bailing out ins co’s who have made a fortune w/ O’Care. Twitter: Donald J. Trump on Twitter
The House may not even take up the the bill, let alone pass it, as conservative factions are already making negative noise. It will take time to surmount these obstacles — and time is a luxury the individual insurance market doesn’t have.