BREAKING: Senators Reach Bipartisan Deal To Fund Obamacare
In an effort to stop the damage caused by Donald Trump, Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray have reached a deal to restore Affordable Care Act cost-sharing reduction payments for two years in exchange for more state flexibility in Obamacare, CNN reports.
The plan would also restore just over $100 million in funding for Obamacare outreach, which is particularly critical since the Trump administration has slashed support for 2018 open enrollment, which begins on November 1.
The deal would include funding through 2019 for Obamacare’s cost-sharing program, which President Donald Trump cut last week. It would allow states to use existing Obamacare waivers to approve insurance plans with “comparable affordability” to Obamacare plans, Alexander said. But it would notably not allow states to duck the law’s minimum requirements for what a health insurance plan must cover.
However, it does not actually loosen any of Obamacare’s regulations, which had been a key goal of the Republican effort to repeal the health reform law.
“Sen. Murray and I have an agreement,” Alexander said, according to Politico. “We’re going to round up co-sponsors as best we can.”
The agreement would also allow all Obamacare enrollees to sign up for so-called catastrophic plans, which have lower premiums but have higher deductibles. Right now, these so-called copper policies are only open to those under 30.
Trump’s yanking of the funding for the subsidies — which reduce deductibles and co-payments for low-income Obamacare enrollees — did not have a widespread impact since many insurers already raised their rates in anticipation of the move. Regulators in several states that didn’t price in the funding loss announced rate hikes soon after the president’s announcement last week. Insurers must continue to offer the cost-sharing subsidies since they are required by law.