After months of failed attempts to pass any health care reform legislation, it appears efforts to pass a bipartisan bill to improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are picking up steam. Below is a summary of regent health care reform developments.
Shortly after releasing the Executive Order, President Trump also announced that the Administration would stop funding cost-sharing reductions available on the ACA Health Insurance Marketplaces. These cost-sharing reductions have been controversial and subject to litigation on the basis that Congress never appropriated funds to pay for the reductions. Critics of the President’s directive to end the reductions argue that it would destabilize the Marketplace and cause premiums to drastically increase. The Congressional Budget Office issued a report in August stating that ending the cost-sharing reductions would actually increase the federal deficit by $194 billion by 2026. This increase is attributable to the fact that the increase in premiums would cause a corresponding increase in premium subsidies funded by the federal government.
An attempt to enjoin the President from ending the cost-sharing reduction program failed in a California district court. Thus, it is likely that the only available path to continuing the program is through the bipartisan legislation described below.
A possible second bill has been announced by Senator Hatch and Representative Brady. The parameters of this legislation are not yet clear. However, it appears that it would also continue funding for cost-sharing reductions (but only for a few years and only for policies that do not cover abortion-related services), provide limited relief from the individual and employer shared responsibility mandates, and increase the contribution limits on health savings accounts.