Lawmakers are looking to take the next step forward in the health care reform process by figuring out how to stabilize the insurance markets after Senate Republicans failed to agree on a plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare at the end of last month; and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is open to a bipartisan solution.
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“If the Democrats are willing to support some real reforms rather than just an insurance company bailout, I would be willing to take a look at it,” McConnell said in his first visit to Kentucky since the failed health care vote, as reported by The Associated Press.
McConnell also told reporters Saturday that all hope is not lost when it comes to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, though that measure would have to be adopted before the onset of the new fiscal year in October, when Republicans will lose the mandate to pass health care reform through the fast-track process known as reconciliation.
Last week, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) said the Senate Health Committee would begin hearings on stabilizing the insurance market during the first week of September, but requested that the Trump administration continue funding cost-sharing reduction subsidies – or reimbursements for discounted care provided to low-income individuals – until reforms were worked out.
“I have … urged the president to temporarily continue the cost-sharing reduction payments through September, so that Congress can work on a short-term solution for stabilizing the individual market in 2018,” Sen. Alexander said at a hearing. “Without payment of these cost-sharing reductions, Americans will be hurt.”
Trump had previously proposed letting the Affordable Care Act “implode” by potentially eliminating the health care subsidies.
Insurers have continually listed cost-sharing reduction subsidies as critical to stabilizing the individual health care marketplace in 2018. Last month, Anthem (NYSE:ANTM) threatened to exit more state ObamaCare exchanges – including those where it has already submitted rate proposals – due to uncertainty over the continuation of these payments.
Insurers have asked the government to provide $8 billion in cost-sharing reduction payments for 2018.