Members of the House are considering a bill, H.R. 6311, that could disconnect the Affordable Care Act premium tax credit subsidy from the ACA public exchange system — and keep residents of New York state, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Washington state from using the tax credit.
The House Ways and Means Committee reviewed H.R. 6311, the “Increasing Access to Lower Premium Plans Act of 2018″ bill, earlier this week, while considering, or “marking up,” a large collection of bills related to health insurance.
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Rep. Pete Roskam, R-Ill., is the lead sponsor.
One part of the bill would let anyone buy catastrophic, “copper level” major medical coverage, or coverage designed to pay about 50% of the actuarial value of the standardized ACA major medical “essential health benefits” package. People eligible for the ACA premium tax credit could use the tax credit to pay the catastrophic coverage premiums.
Today, to try to reduce the odds that insured consumers will end up with huge out-of-pocket medical costs, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services makes copper level plans available to people under 30 and to older people who are unable to pay for bronze coverage, or coverage designed to cover about 60% of the actuarial value of the EHB package. Consumers cannot use the premium tax credit to pay for catastrophic coverage.
Another part of H.R. 6311 would let consumers use the ACA premium tax credit to pay for individual major medical coverage purchased outside the ACA public exchange system.
In theory, well-known health insurers, or insurers with strong agent networks, could use that provision to avoid having to pay ACA public exchange user fees. In HealthCare.gov states, the user fee is 3.5% of the premiums.
The ACA system was modeled after the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plan markets. Consumers can already buy coverage through those markets without going through a centralized public exchange program.
H.R. 6311 would restrict use of the ACA premium tax credit subsidy to plans that comply with the ACA underwriting and benefits requirements, and to plans that exclude coverage for abortion.
Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., noted during the markup that the provision would conflict with state mandates in New York state, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Washington state that require health plans to cover abortion services.
DelBene talked about a scenario in which H.R. 6311 was passed as written, and implemented as written, and states like Washington state did not change their abortion benefits mandates.
In that scenario, “no one in my state would be eligible for premium tax credits,” DelBene said.