Health Reform WK-EDGE Bipartisan ACA-fix hearings underway
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Friday, September 15, 2017

Bipartisan ACA-fix hearings underway

By Kathryn S. Beard, J.D.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP Committee) is holding a series of hearings on Stabilizing Premiums and Helping Individuals in the Individual Insurance Market for 2018. Three of four hearings have taken place so far, bringing testimony from state insurance commissioners and governors, and discussing state flexibility. The final hearing, focusing on health care stakeholders, will take place on September 14.

Insurance commissioners from OklahomaWashingtonPennsylvaniaAlaska, and Tennessee testified at the first hearing, while governors of MassachusettsMontanaTennesseeUtah, and Colorado testified at the second. Each discussed state-specific experiences with implementation of the ACA, with differences based on whether the states ran their own marketplaces for health insurance or used the federal marketplace, whether the states expanded Medicaid, and their state waiver experiences. Each also offered suggestions for improvement.

The state flexibility hearing included testimony from a former HHS Secretary, an actuary, and CEOs of a state marketplace, the Foundation for Government Accountability, and the Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan, Inc. Following the third hearing, HELP Committee Chair Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) highlighted the need for an easier waiver process for state innovations. At the same time, Ranking Member Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash) noted that flexibility should not come at the expense of patient protections.

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