Capitol Correspondence - 03.26.18

Congressional Talks Flagging For ACA Market Stabilization

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Congress did not include either of the two bills seeking to stabilize Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as “Obamacare”) insurance markets in the omnibus bill when it passed in the very early morning of Friday, March 23, 2018. One bill is sponsored by Senators Lamar (R-TN) and Murray (D-WA), the other by Senators Lamar and Collins (R-ME). In addition to the general divisiveness of the ACA, one issue complicating market stabilization is disagreement over to include language concerning federal funding of abortions – the Lamar-Murray bill does not have that language, while the Lamar-Collins bill does include it.

As a result, while Senate GOP Leader McConnell has promised to Senator Collins that he will bring the Lamar-Collins up for a vote on the Senate floor, it is unlikely to garner enough support to pass the Senate and go to the House of Representatives.

The implications of this, according to a snippet from Politico Pro, are that “With major divisions between Republicans and Democrats still apparent and few must-pass bills on the horizon, the Trump administration will instead hold sway, using its executive power to make changes to the health insurance market that could drive prices up even more.”

Despite the current stalemate, ACA markets are an issue that could rise again in Congress. A new report by the Urban Institute found that premiums for the lowest “silver” insurance plans went by 32 percent in 2018, which could put political pressure on Congress to act. In the meantime, however, Congress has more bandwidth for various issues now that it has completed the budget process for 2019. As such, we urge ANCOR members to take advantage of this opening and use the upcoming Congressional recess to reach out to their Members of Congress and educate them on provider and IDD issues – such as the importance of Medicaid, and the need to renew the Money Follows the Person program.