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Capitol Correspondence - 03.19.18

ACA (“ObamaCare”) Market Stabilization Efforts Still in Flux

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GOP support for legislation stabilizing Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as ObamaCare) insurance markets is growing, however, the situation surrounding the legislation remains in flux.

U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) continue to promote their market stabilization legislation, though Senator Alexander is also working with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) on a different market stabilization package. As these discussions evolve, Politico Pro has reported that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued preliminary reports finding that the Alexander-Murray bill could reduce insurance premiums by an average of 10 percent in 2019 and an average of 20 percent by 2020 and 2021.

However, based on comments House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) made to Politico Pro last week, the likelihood that ACA stabilization measures will be included in the federal budget omnibus bill is diminishing, despite earlier hopes to the contrary. This is largely because Congressional leadership does not want to further complicate negotiations over the omnibus, which is already being delayed by other disputes over policy riders. This means that it is likely that any market stabilization measures would have to be voted upon by Congress as stand-alone bills, which complicates their odds of success.

Adding to pressure in Congress for ACA market stabilization are findings by reputed actuarial firms such as Avalere and think tanks such as the Urban Institute that premiums will steeply increase if Congress does not take action.

ANCOR will continue to monitor discourse around ACA market stabilization in order to assess how much it will occupy Congress’ limited time and attention span after the budget process is finalized.