Congress’ Last Chance in 2018 to Stabilize ACA Markets
Health Care

Congress’ Last Chance in 2018 to Stabilize ACA Markets


Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have formally rolled out the text of the bipartisan Obamacare stabilization proposal they are pressing to have included in the omnibus spending package this week.

The proposal includes three years of funding for the ACA’s cost-sharing payments, three years of funding at $10 billion a year for a new reinsurance program and increased flexibility for states in implementing Obamacare plans.

“A self-employed plumber making $60,000 may be paying $20,000 for health insurance. Over time, our proposal could cut up to $8,000 from that insurance bill,” the lawmakers said in a statement. Their numbers were based on an analysis released last week by consulting firm Oliver Wyman that found that the stabilization package could lower premiums by up to 40 percent in the individual insurance market.

But other analysts have warned that the stabilization measures “would do more harm than good,” with the restored cost-sharing reduction payments likely leading to higher net premiums for those who receive federal subsidies for their plans.

It’s not clear yet whether the stabilization measures will make it into the omnibus — likely the last chance this year for Congress to enact such measures. The whole stabilization package could collapse because of a fight over abortion funding restrictions Republicans want to introduce.

Either way, Congress’ decisions “will have a big impact on millions of people's insurance premiums, and on insurance companies' decisions about whether to keep participating in these markets,” writes Axios’ Caitlin Owens.