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Senators Strike Deal to Float Obamacare

by Countable | 10.17.17

Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges got a boost Tuesday with an announcement by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) that they’d reached a bipartisan, two-year deal to continue subsidies for insurance companies to pay the premiums of low-income consumers. The news comes less than a week after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to end the subsidies.

The two ranking senators from the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee expressed confidence their plan will help stabilize health insurance markets. Chairman Alexander said that the "agreement avoids chaos" while Murray said it represents “common ground” that will “help protect families from premium spikes.”

For his part, President Trump spoke positively of the deal, emphasizing that it’s "a short-term solution" during a press conference at the White House while signalling that “ultimately we think block grants going to the states is going to be the answer.”

Some of the details of the agreement are still being worked out and the senators didn’t offer a timetable for introducing their plan as legislation, but here’s a look at what we know so far:

  • Cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to health insurance companies to cover premiums for low-income policyholders would continue for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

  • Individuals would be allowed to buy catastrophic health insurance plans if they’re over the age of 30. Such plans would be called "copper plans".

  • $106 million in funding to promote enrollment in Obamacare that had been cut would be restored.

  • States would be able to get Obamacare waivers for plans with "comparable" affordability to plans currently on the market, as opposed to the current requirement that plans getting waivers be “as affordable as” those available.

Tell your reps what you think of the proposed bipartisan healthcare deal using the Take Action button and join the conversation in the comments below.

— Eric Revell

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(Photo Credit: utah778 / iStock)

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