GOP Senator Tries To Keep Obamacare Exchanges on Life Support for Next Two Years Until Replacement Arrives

Sen. Lamar Alexander wants to save the ACA before killing it. That would be quite a trick, as Roll Call reports, but Alexander says that some aspects of the law should remain in place for 2018 and 2019. Mainly he wants to shore up Obamacare exchanges so that millions do not lose coverage.

Roll Call reports Alexander saying: “We might have to do some things and authorize some things in those two years that we wouldn’t do long-term. And then in 2020, we would hope to have our long-term solution for the people that don’t have the insurance.”

Alexander wants to keep funding cost-sharing subsidies, which allow lower-income people to buy coverage and encourages insurers selling those plans to stay in the market. Many insurers have been bailing out of the state markets because without the subsidies, staying in would be economically unfeasible.

Iowa may be the first state—but very possibly not the last—that will not offer an ACA exchange. And insurers in the first states where public filings to participate in ACA exchanges next year have occurred—Maryland, Virginia, and Connecticut—want to increase premiums by at least 20%. In Maryland, CareFirst is asking for a 50% increase in premiums

Alexander is not the only Republican senator who is considering bolstering the exchanges. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson told Roll Call: “We’ve got to do that because those markets are collapsing. Then, I think, we’ve got to take a look at what the long term is.”

Like Alexander, Johnson visualizes a two-part strategy of stabilizing and repealing the ACA. It will be difficult, he said. “I don’t think we are going to be able to come to a conclusion quickly enough to stabilize these markets. The way you sell it to members is [to] get the reality out on the table, that premiums aren’t going up because of Republicans. Premiums are going up because Obamacare is collapsing these markets.”

Source: Roll Call