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Congress May Kill ACA Multi-State Plan Program

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Congress may be closer to killing an Affordable Care Act program that never got much attention.

Members of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs recently voted 10-3 for S. 2221, the “Repeal Insurance Plans of the Multi-State Program Act of 2017″ bill.

Analysts at the Congressional Budget Office posted a review of S. 2221 earlier this week.

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the only carrier that still offers a plan in the Multi-State Plan (MSP) program, and that MSP operates only in Arkansas, the CBO analysts reported.

(Related: Feds: ACA Multi-State Plans Really Do Exist)

The lawmakers who added the MSP provision to the Affordable Care Act hoped that it would clear the way for carriers to bring down health insurance costs, by selling coverage across state lines. Each state’s Affordable Care Act public exchange program, or “marketplace,” was supposed to offer MSPs from two carriers.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the federal agency in charge of the federal government’s highly regarded Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, ran the MSP program.

OPM officials indicated in 2015, in regulatory impact analysis documents, that MSPs covered 371,000 people and generated $1.4 billion in premium revenue in 2014.

The administration of former President Barack Obama gave little other information about the MSPs over the years.

Reports from regulators “show that those plans serve a small and declining percentage of people who purchase coverage through the marketplaces,” CBO analysts write in the new report.

The CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation “do not expect that eliminating such plans would affect the level of competition in or average premiums for marketplace coverage in future years,” the CBO analysts write. “Thus, implementing S. 2221 would not have a significant effect on the federal budget.”

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., the highest-ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, is the bill sponsor.

When the committee considered the bill at a business meeting on Feb. 14, Sen. Claire McCaskill, the highest-ranking Democrat on the committee, said she would vote for the MSP program repeal bill.

“The way it was designed is not working,” McCaskill said.

But McCaskill said she wished the committee was working to fix Affordable Care Act programs like the MSP program, rather than repealing Affordable Care Act components piece by piece.


A copy of the bill text is available here.

A copy of the CBO analysis is available here.

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee has posted a collection of links to resources related to the Feb. 14 business meeting, including a video recording of the hearing, here.

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