Health-care industry asks Senate to keep Obamacare subsidies coming for two more years

Lobbyists representing doctors, health-insurance companies, and health-care businesses pressed the Senate's health committee this week to commit to funding health-insurance subsidies for the next two years.
By Lila Alexander | Sep 11, 2017
Lobbyists representing doctors, health-insurance companies, and health-care businesses pressed the Senate's health committee this week to commit to funding health-insurance subsidies for the next two years. The committee heard from them as it began working on legislation to stabilize the individual insurance market, which the lobbyists warned will suffer from sharp price hikes for plans and reduced plan coverage unless the insurers have confidence that Obamacare's insurance subsidies will continue.
The subsidies, or cost-sharing reductions (CSRs), pay the insurers for the higher costs they incur covering large numbers of new patients who have expensive pre-existing health conditions. President Trump had agreed in August to fund the subsidies on only a month-to-month basis.
"We urge the committee to include continuous funding for CSR benefits for at least the next two years (2018-2019) as part of bipartisan legislation to stabilize the individual market," the health-care lobbies, led by America's Health Insurance Plans, wrote to Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) and Patty Murray (D-Washington) in a letter Tuesday. "Without two years of CSR funding, uncertainty will persist, and the Congress will need to address these same issues early next year."
The subsidies affect the health-insurance plans of nearly six-million Americans, the letter also stated. It warned that without the subsidies, insurers would have to pass on the higher costs of Obamacare coverage to consumers in the form of premium increases of 20-25 percent or more.
Some insurers aren't waiting. Anthem and Molina Healthcare have scaled back their coverage offerings in some states already and cited the lack of a federal commitment on the subsidies as a reason. Aetna, UnitedHealth Group, and Humana have additionally pulled out of many state insurance markets in the last two years due to the costs of providing more-expansive coverage under Obamacare and taking on more sick patients.

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