KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Spiking Premiums In Volatile Marketplace Give Ammunition To Both Democrats, Republicans

Insurers all over the country are seeking increases averaging about 20 percent. While the GOP says rates have been trending this way for years, Democrats counter that the prices are high because Republican lawmakers and the Trump White House have destabilized the marketplace.

The Wall Street Journal: Insurers Look To Ramp Up Premiums In Health Law Exchanges
A growing number of major insurers are seeking premium increases averaging 20% or more for next year on plans sold under the Affordable Care Act, according to rate proposals in more than 10 states that provide the broadest picture so far of the strains on the marketplaces. As Republicans try to pass a health-care bill to overhaul the ACA, the attention has focused on insurers’ withdrawals from a few states that risk leaving some consumers with no exchange plans next year. But the rate requests by major insurers show stress on the marketplaces stretches beyond those trouble spots. (Wilde Mathews and Radnofsky, 6/16)

The Hill: Insurers Confront Big ObamaCare Decision
Insurers are nearing the deadline for deciding whether to propose massive rate hikes or leave the ObamaCare markets altogether in the face of immense uncertainty over the future of the law. The federal deadline for insurers to file rate proposals with the federal government is June 21. Many insurers had been hoping that the Trump administration would say for certain whether it would continue to pay cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies for covering low-income enrollees. (Hellmann, 6/15)

The CT Mirror: Vulnerable Access Health Keeping An Eye On Other States 
With Connecticut’s health insurance exchange teetering — with just two insurers left and neither yet committed for 2018 — the exchange’s board is beginning to watch innovations being considered in other states, including a single-payer system and Medicaid-for-all. Currently, the exchange, Access Health CT, is hoping to keep both its insurers and begin its open enrollment period on Nov. 1 (Werth, 6/15)

Meanwhile, a top Republican is pushing his colleagues to help stabilize the exchanges —

CQ Roll Call: Alexander Presses HHS To Continue Cost-Sharing Subsidies
Sen. Lamar Alexander, who chairs an influential committee, asked the Trump administration on Thursday to commit to paying cost-sharing insurance subsidies created by the Democrats’ 2010 health law for another two years, a move that might help stabilize these markets. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price responded to the Tennessee Republican's question by noting the Trump administration’s budget calls for paying these subsidies for two years. Alexander raised the issue with Price at a Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations hearing on the department's fiscal 2018 request. Alexander is the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee as well as a senior appropriator. (young, 6/15)

The Hill: GOP Chairman Pushes For ObamaCare Payments To Be Made
Alexander has been urging Congress to temporarily “repair” ObamaCare as Republicans work to dismantle and replace it. “The payments will help to avoid the real possibility that millions of Americans will literally have zero options for insurance in the individual market in 2018,” Alexander said at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the HHS budget request. (Roubein, 6/15)

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