Alexander Says 2018 Health Insurance Compromise That Includes Cost-Sharing Payments Must Include Flexibility For States

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

At the third of four Senate health care hearings this month, held to hear testimony from state flexibility experts, Chairman Lamar Alexander said that any health insurance compromise for a stability bill including cost-sharing payments must also include real flexibility for states.

“The individual market is where 18 million Americans buy their insurance, “Senator Alexander said, “The cost of premiums, co-pays and deductibles have been skyrocketing in many states.

Half of these 18 million Americans have government subsidies to help cushion the blow of these rising prices. Many who find themselves in the other half are being priced out of the insurance market. They just can’t afford it.

“Despite our partisan differences, our two hearings last week demonstrated a real hunger by many senators on both sides of the aisle to come to a result. Three themes emerged during those hearings and I believe they represent a working consensus for stabilizing premiums in the individual insurance market in 2018. First, Congress should approve continuing funding of the cost-sharing payments that reduce co-pays and deductibles for many low-income Americans who buy insurance on the exchanges.

“The second theme came from senators on both sides of the aisle to expand the so-called 'copper plan' already in law, so anyone – not just those 29 or under – could purchase a lower premium, higher deductible plan that keeps a medical catastrophe from turning into a financial catastrophe.

“Third, advocated by state insurance commissioners, governors, and senators from both sides of the aisle, was to give states more flexibility in the approval of coverage, choices, and prices for health insurance.

“Most of the discussion about flexibility last week centered on giving states greater flexibility by amending section 1332—the state innovation waiver provision that is already in  the Affordable Care Act. We heard from virtually every witness last week that an application for the section 1332 waiver is too cumbersome, inflexible, and expensive for states – even though 23 states have taken steps to start the process so far, only two have succeeded. One part would be to make it easier for states to do what Alaska has done, and what Minnesota, Iowa and Maine are considering doing. 

“Another part is to give states more authority to offer a larger variety of health insurance plans that would give individuals the opportunity to have a more personalized health insurance plan. We heard from several witnesses that the current rules on what types of health insurance can be offered under 1332 waivers are so rigid that a state essentially can’t offer anything but an existing Affordable Care Act exchange plan. This would be like a restaurant menu with only one item, or a travel agency with only one destination, or if Dr. Seuss had written a book titled ‘Oh, The Place You’ll Go.’”

On Thursday, the committee will meet to hear from a state insurance commissioner, doctors, and patient advocates. The committee met last Wednesday to hear from state insurance commissioners and last Thursday to hear from governors

Alexander’s full prepared remarks here.



Morning Pointe Celebrates Dec. 14 Holiday Grand Opening In Spring Hill

Morning Pointe of Spring Hill will celebrate a holiday grand opening Dec. 14, from 4-7 p.m. at 1001 McCutcheon Creek Lane, located off Miles Johnson Parkway, south of Duplex Road. The event will begin with a formal ribbon cutting at 4:30 p.m., and will feature a Christmas Concert by Summit High School and a singing of songs from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” by Columbia State ... (click for more)

CHI Memorial Mobile Health Coach To Visit Meigs And Sequatchie Counties

CHI Memorial’s mobile health coaches will provide mammography screenings on Friday, Dec. 1 at the Piggly Wiggly, 17619 State Hwy. 58 N. in Decatur, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and at the Sequatchie County Senior Center, 103 Heard St. in Dunlap, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. CDT.   "All women should have one screening mammogram between the ages of 35-40. After age 40, a screening mammogram ... (click for more)

City Council Votes On 1st Reading To Lower Rain Retention Requirement In South Chickamauga Creek Basin

The City Council on Tuesday voted to lower the requirement for rainwater retention in the South Chickamauga Creek basin. The move from holding the first 1.6 inches to one inch had been requested by the Home Builders Association and the Berke administration. Sandy Kurtz, longtime leader of the South Chickamauga Creek Greenway Alliance, said the resolution was "not yet ready ... (click for more)

Former Pilot Regional Account Specialist Says Former President Mark Hazelwood Approved Of Fraud

When well-known attorney Rusty Hardin on Tuesday asked a former Pilot regional account specialist if she believed that former president Mark Hazelwood knew of a plan to cheat trucking firms he didn't get the answer he expected. Holly Radford told a jury in Chattanooga, "I know he had knowledge of the rebate schemes that were going on. "I had conversations with him about it ... (click for more)

Thankful For Tennessee

While Christmas reigns supreme as a holiday marking the birth of our Lord, I have always felt a special connection with Thanksgiving. These days Christmas unfortunately includes ubiquitous commercialism which can distract us from the true meaning of the day. Thanksgiving stands apart from all that. This day gives us an opportunity to reflect and take stock of our many blessings.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Thanksgiving Eve

I don’t know who was the first to do the Famous Pregnant Turkey prank but I’ll bet you a handful of giblets there will be a lot of copycats who try it today. The trick is finding a Cornish hen that is small enough to stuff inside the larger turkey. Then you skillfully pack the bird with some of that sausage-sage dressing and put your Thanksgiving dinner in the oven. When all ... (click for more)