Uncertainty on Subsidies Roils Insurance Market

Before the last minute Graham-Cassidy effort, the U.S. Senate’s HELP Committee – Health Education, Labor and Pensions – had begun to hold hearings on ways to improve the ACA and develop a bipartisan plan focused on addressing issues affecting access and affordability of insurance offerings in the individual market. And the committee’s Republican Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Ranking Democrat Patty Murray (Wash.) were investigating ways to fund the cost-sharing subsidies that help lower-income people afford co-pays and deductibles on health plans they buy through insurance exchanges. In statements throughout the ACA repeal-replace debate, President Trump has indicated that  his administration may not continue to support the subsidies. (A federal judge has ruled them illegal since Congress had not appropriated the funding; the case was appealed by the Obama Administration and it has yet to be taken up.)  This uncertainty has led many insurers across the U.S. to propose plans with massive premium increases. The insurers said that if they did not have a firm decision from the Trump Administration over the subsidies they had no choice but to raise premiums.