KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Powerful GOP Chairman Backs Insurance Subsidy Payments: Americans ‘Should Not Be Left Out To Dry’

The uncertainty surrounding the payments has created instability in the marketplace, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) says. Meanwhile, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price dodges questions on the subsidies during a Senate committee hearing.

The New York Times: A Key Republican Demands Subsidies To Calm Insurance Markets
A powerful House Republican said Thursday that Congress should immediately provide money for subsidy payments to health insurance companies, which have been demanding big rate increases or fleeing from Affordable Care Act markets because of President Trump’s threat to cut off the funds. The Republican, Kevin Brady of Texas, who is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, went out of his way to make clear that he now believes that Congress should continue the subsidies, which compensate insurers for reducing deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for seven million low-income people. (Pear, 6/8)

The Associated Press: Top Republican Seeks Action Now To Steady Insurance Markets
"We should act within our constitutional authority now to temporarily and legally fund (subsidy) payments as we move away from Obamacare," Brady said at a budget hearing. He and his GOP colleagues are trying to roll back President Barack Obama's signature law that provided the financial assistance in the first place. "Insurers have made clear the lack of certainty is causing 2018 proposed premiums to rise significantly," added Brady. That's also a midterm election year, in which every seat in the Republican-controlled House and 33 seats in the GOP-controlled Senate are on the ballot. (6/8)

CQ Roll Call: House Chairman Asks Administration To Fund Health Subsidy
The cost-sharing reduction payments are expected to cost about $10 billion in fiscal 2018, while other federal subsidies for premiums may run about $48 billion. The cost-sharing subsidies are intended to help people with low incomes pay other costs associated with insurance such as deductibles and copays. (Young, 6/8)

Morning Consult: Price Dodges Specifics On Obamacare Payments To Insurers
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price defended the need to overhaul the Affordable Care Act but didn’t offer new ways the administration would give insurance companies much-needed answers during his testimony to a Senate panel Thursday. “Nobody is interested in the system dying. What we’re interested in is making sure that the system works for patients and families and doctors,” Price said at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the president’s budget. “Nobody is cheering the challenges that we have in this system.” (McIntire, 6/8)

The Hill: No Certainty On Cost-Sharing Payments To Insurers
Insurers didn’t get certainty from Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price that they’ll continue to receive key payments from the federal government, despite Democratic pressure at a Thursday Senate Finance Committee hearing. The administration hasn’t said how long it will continue the payments to insurers that go toward decreasing out-of-pocket costs for lower-income ObamaCare consumers. Lawmakers have said they want to stabilize the market in some way, but haven’t said definitively if Congress will decide to fund cost-sharing reduction payments. (Roubein, 6/8)

And in the states —

The Wall Street Journal: Two Washington State Counties Lack ACA Health Insurer For 2018
Washington state has no insurer willing to offer Affordable Care Act plans next year in two of its 39 counties, opening up a third U.S. region that is poised to be without coverage through the health law’s marketplaces. The latest announcement, from Washington’s state insurance regulator, is likely to add to the political pressure over the status of the ACA’s marketplaces, which are showing growing signs of strain around the country. (Wilde Mathews and Radnofsky, 6/8)

Kaiser Health News: As Delaware Insurance Options Shrink, Families Are ‘Holding Our Breath’
Andy and Serena Ryan get their health coverage through the state’s Affordable Care Act insurance exchange and are increasingly anxious about it. Serena Ryan, 31, who left her part-time job as a nurse in 2016 to care for and home-school the couple’s two children, ages 5 and 3, calls the coverage a “blessing.” Andy Ryan, 33, is a self-employed marketing consultant. “The health insurance has allowed us to live the way we want, to be at home with the kids and create our own business,” Serena Ryan said. “We know we needed the coverage in case something happened, even though it’s a big expense.” (Findlay, 6/9)

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