The chairman of the Senate's key health committee urged President Donald Trump to continue making payments on subsidies that reduce out-of-pocket costs for low-income Obamacare plan enrollees, and urged his fellow Republican lawmakers to fund those subsidies through 2018.
"Without payment of these cost-sharing reductions Americans will be hurt," said Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., in announcing hearings next month to come up with a short-term bipartisan plan to stabilize markets, noting that insurers have said they will have to raise premium rates up to 20 percent if the subsidies are cut.
"If the president over the next two months, and Congress over the next year, take steps to provide certainty that there will be cost-sharing subsidies, that should allow insurance companies to lower the premiums that they have projected," said Alexander.
The Senator is proposing that Congress enact a temporary one-year stabilization funding plan by mid-September, ahead of the Sept. 27 deadline for insurers to commit to sign contracts to provide coverage on health insurance exchanges for 2018.
"It sounds a little late, doesn't it?" said Peggy O'Kane, president of the National Committee for Quality Assurance, a non-profit health firm that works with large employers, doctors and health plans on health quality measures.
"We are at a point of tremendous urgency to get this resolved," O'Kane said, with insurers facing deadlines to file their final rate requests over the next two weeks.