A small group of Republicans — led by Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham — appear convinced they can rework the equation to secure that ever-elusive 50th vote for their measure, finally passing a bill overhauling the Affordable Care Act with a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Pence and moving closer to their goal of repealing and replacing President Barack Obama’s health-care law.
There will be a lot of moving parts to watch this week. Republicans have asked the Congressional Budget Office to rush a score of the Graham-Cassidy bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s, R-Ky., office confirmed yesterday. McConnell plans to take the temperature of his leadership team and his entire conference over the next few days. They have only two weeks left to scrape together enough support, since the budget reconciliation bill they’re using expires at the end of the month.
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.