A bipartisan group of eight governors is calling for changes to Obamacare that would increase funding under the law, enforce some of its rules on buying insurance, and encourage more health insurers to participate in the program.
The proposal, led by Ohio Republican John Kasich and Democrat John Hickenlooper of Colorado, comes as premiums under the program continue to rise in many states and as insurers have pulled out.
The rise in out-of-pocket health costs worries hospital operators now forecasting a downturn in admissions if patients don’t get relief from high deductibles and co-payments via subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
Already, hospitals are seeing soft admissions as employers and commercial carriers shift more out-of-pocket costs onto workers for their surgeries and related hospitalizations. It’s a trend hurting large hospital operators like Tenet Healthcare and HCA Holdings and is beginning to spread to nonprofit hospitals and health systems as well.
On Thursday morning, the last gap was closed. In every county in the country, an insurance provider was ready to handle people enrolling for Obamacare.
Iowa’s lone ObamaCare insurer has requested a 57 percent rate increase for 2018, citing uncertainty over how the Trump administration will handle the healthcare law.
In a revised rate request, Medica on Wednesday asked for an increase 13 percentage points higher than its original request filed in June.
Medica and other insurers have worried about whether the Trump administration will continue funding key Obamacare payments known as cost-sharing reductions.
The Trump administration is giving insurance companies an extra three weeks to decide whether to offer insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act markets, and how much to charge.
The extension comes as insurance companies wait for President Trump to decide whether he will continue to make payments to insurance companies that are called for under the Affordable Care Act but that some Republicans have opposed.
The payments — known as cost-sharing reduction payments — reimburse insurance companies for discounts on copayments and deductibles that they’re required by law to offer to low-income customers. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the payments this year would be about $7 billion.
Insurers are making final decisions about their Obamacare rates for next year. So far, it looks as if many of them will be building in an uncertainty tax.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has compiled proposed insurance prices for coverage in 21 large American cities next year. The rates remain subject to change as insurers and regulators continue to negotiate. But the Kaiser researchers have done similar analyses over the last few years and found the proposed rates to be roughly predictive of the national trend.
Two themes stick out: One is that, while insurance premiums will rise substantially in many cities, the increases are generally not bigger than they were last year. The other is that insurers are being quite explicit about citing the Trump administration’s hostile policy messages as a substantial reason for the higher prices.
The Trump administration, thwarted in several attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, notably shifted tone Wednesday, opening the door for a bipartisan plan to “fix” the law.
“Both folks in the House and the Senate, on both sides of the aisle frankly, have said that Obamacare doesn’t work, and it needs to be either repealed or fixed,” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said on Fox & Friends. “So the onus is on Congress.”