Obama Administration Set To Pick Coverage For Customers Who Lose Plans On Marketplaces
Some consumer advocates say the government assistance on choosing coverage will benefit people whose plans have exited the health law's exchanges, but insurers worry that it could create confusion. In other health law news, Republicans on Capitol Hill are hoping to stop administration efforts to pay insurers more under a risk program to help the businesses that have been hurt by enrolling too many sick customers.
The Associated Press:
Government To Pick Plans For Displaced Health Law Customers
Worried that insurers bailing out of the health law's markets may prompt their customers to drop out, too, the Obama administration plans to steer affected policyholders to remaining insurance companies. But those consumers could get an unwelcome surprise if their new government-recommended plan isn't what they're used to. The backstop was outlined in an administration document circulating among insurers and state regulators. It also calls for reaching those "discontinued consumers" with a constant stream of reminders as the health law's 2017 sign-up season goes into full swing. Open enrollment for HealthCare.gov starts Nov. 1 and ends Jan. 31. A copy of the strategy was provided to The Associated Press. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 10/6)
House Republicans Probe Potential Risk-Corridor Settlements
Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have deepened their probe into the Obama administration's plans for a controversial Affordable Care Act insurance provision by asking insurers to unveil any settlement talks. The committee sent letters to six insurers and two insurance associations requesting any communications between them and the administration about the risk-corridor program and any related lawsuits or settlement discussions. (Teichert, 10/5)
GOP Seeks To Block ObamaCare Settlements With Insurers
Republicans in Congress are plotting ways to block the Obama administration from paying insurance companies hundreds of millions of dollars as part of an ObamaCare program. GOP lawmakers say they are looking at “a dozen” options — including a possible provision in the year-end spending bill — to prevent the administration from using an obscure fund within the Treasury Department to pay out massive settlements to insurers. The insurance companies are suing over a shortfall in an ObamaCare program that they say is damaging their businesses. (Sullivan and Ferris, 10/5)
In other health news —
What Happens If Congress Doesn’t Change Obamacare?
If Congress can’t come to agreement on any sort of changes to the Affordable Care Act — a reasonable assumption, given the lack of action in the last six years — the law will continue operating on autopilot for another two to four years. What happens then? Health analysts point to a few different scenarios. The most optimistic projection is that the law could naturally work out its kinks and be fine — i.e., more people would enroll and more insurers would participate, creating a healthy market. On the other side of the spectrum, the ACA exchanges could fall into a death spiral of fewer healthy enrollees and fewer insurers offering products. (Owens, 10/5)
Slavitt Says Health Industry’s Transformation Still To Come
CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt called the health care law a “disruption” that could force the industry to make major changes, comparing the concerns about rising premiums that arose this summer to concerns that were raised ahead of major changes in the auto and banking industries years ago. “What we see here, is the opening up of a new $40 billion and growing market with lots of capital,” Slavitt said, referring to the marketplace set up under the Affordable Care Act. “As disruptions go, this is a pretty great one.” (McIntire, 10/5)
HHS Chief Hints At Tweaks To ObamaCare Marketplace
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell on Wednesday sought to calm fears about the still-shaky ObamaCare marketplaces in the final stretch before this year’s sign-up period. Speaking to health insurance executives in Washington, Burwell stressed that the White House is listening to insurers as some of them worry about staying afloat in the ObamaCare business. She ticked off several of the tweaks that the administration has already made this year and hinted that more changes were in the works. (Ferris, 10/5)
Did Land Of Lincoln Members Need To Shop For New Coverage After All?
About one-third of the individual members of failed insurer Land of Lincoln did not buy new health coverage on the state's Obamacare exchange as of last week's deadline, according to the Illinois Department of Insurance. But that may not mean they are uninsured. Former members began receiving letters in the past few days — after the Friday deadline for securing uninterrupted Obamacare coverage through other companies — saying they may be entitled to coverage through a state entity. (Schencker, 10/5)