The Healthcare Roller Coaster Continues

Last week, things are taking a surprising turn. Here's the latest news on ACA changes.

A bipartisan group of Senators, Governors and Insurance Commissioners held meetings in Washington D.C. last week. The goal of these meetings was to come up with a mutually agreeable bill by the end of the week that would attempt to stabilize Exchanges and the individual marketplace.

It’s still not clear if their efforts will be successful, but there does seem to be some momentum on both sides of the aisle that:

  1. Guaranteeing federal money for the payment of the cost-sharing reduction subsidies might be the most significant thing they can do in the short-term.
  2. Reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) also seems to be on the priority list. 

Meanwhile there is a new repeal and replace bill that is being considered by Republicans. There is no formal bill yet, but Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy have introduced the idea of repealing Medicaid expansion and Exchange subsidies as they exist today.

Instead, they are proposing that states would receive block grants from the federal government, and each state could decide how those funds could be used. The actual content for this proposed bill may be introduced as early as Monday.

On the other side of the coin more members of Congress are starting to embrace Senator Bernie Sanders idea of a Medicare-for-all approach to healthcare. It would be highly unlikely this type of bill would become law based on the current make up of Congress, but this may become an agenda item for more Democrats in the future.

Republican Senator Susan Collins and Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly have reintroduced a bill that would modify the definition of a full-time employee under the Employer Mandate as being one working 40 hours per week. Currently, employers subject to the mandate are at risk of penalties for failing to offer coverage to employees who work 30 or more hours per week. Like most other bills, it’s unclear how much traction this bill can gain moving forward.

Strap yourself in—we still seem to be in for a wild ride when it comes to the actions Congress may or may not take with respect to healthcare.

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