Sen. Lamar Alexander today shook off predictions of doom for his effort to save the U.S. individual major medical insurance market and unveiled the text of the rescue bill on the floor of the Senate.
The Tennessee Republican said his fellow Republicans should support the proposal, the Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act of 2017 bill, to stabilize a market that provides health coverage for about 18 million people.
If many counties end up lacking any private individual major medical coverage options at all in 2018, “government-sponsored insurance is not far behind,” Alexander warned.
Alexander questioned the idea that letting the market fall to pieces, to force Democrats to agree to broader changes to the Affordable Care Act, is a conservative strategy.
“What’s conservative about creating chaos?” Alexander asked.
Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, spent months developing the 26-page bill together with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash, the highest-ranking Democrat on the committee.
Alexander and Murray posted a copy of the text on the Senate HELP website, to give members something to look at while Congress.gov, the official congressional legislative website, is still processing the bill.
A copy of the full text is available here.
A copy of the summary is available here.
For a look at three things agents and brokers might want to know about the bill, read on.
Bipartisan Health Care Stabilization Act (BHCSA) Provisions
Section 3 of the BHCSA bill would provide an appropriation for “such sums as may be necessary” to fund the Affordable Care Act cost-sharing reduction program for the rest of 2017, all of 2018, and all of 2019.
The subsidy program has been providing billions of dollars of year to help insurers reduce what low-income Affordable Care Act public exchange plan users must spend on deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance amounts.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. (Photo: Murray)
Republicans question whether the federal government has ever had a valid appropriation to make the subsidy payments.
Under former President Barack Obama, the government said a permanent Affordable Care Act appropriation for the Affordable Care Act advance premium tax credit subsidy also applies to the cost-sharing reduction subsidy, because both subsidies are two parts of the same program.