- Two GOP committee leaders, Rep. Kevin Brady and Sen. Orrin Hatch, released their own plan to stabilise Obamacare.
- The plan would appropriate the key cost-sharing reduction payments but also do away with Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates.
- The plan would most likely not stabilise the individual market and would face a difficult time in the Senate.
Two Republican leaders announced their own package to temporarily shore up the Obamacare exchanges on Tuesday, but the deal appears to be as much a repeal of the law as a fix for it.
Rep. Kevin Brady, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, rolled out a four-point plan for the Obamacare exchanges that funds the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments while also stripping away the cornerstone mandates of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The key aspects of the Brady-Hatch plan are:
- Fund CSR payments through 2019: The plan also says there a “pro-life” protections on the payments, which likely means restrictions on using the payments for plans that cover abortions. The plan also hints at guardrails for the use of these payments but does not specify them.
- Suspend the individual mandate from 2017 to 2021: The plan would do away the financial penalty for people who do not get healthcare coverage.
- Refund employer mandate penalties incurred from 2015 to 2017: Any penalties companies paid for not offering health insurance to their employees over the past three years would apparently be refunded.
- Expand the use of health savings accounts: The plan wants to increase the contribution on these tax-deductible accounts.
Hatch and Brady painted the plan as a way to help boost the markets while also addressing underlying issues with Obamacare.
“What we’re proposing not only helps treat some of Obamacare’s symptoms — rising premiums, fewer choices, and uncertainty and instability,” Brady said in a statement announcing the plan. “It takes steps to cure Obamacare’s underlying illness through patient-centered reforms that deliver relief from federal mandates, protect life, and increase choices in health care.”
The repeal of the mandates could seriously undermine the health of the Obamacare exchanges according to Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy think tank.
“Getting rid of the individual mandate for five years without anything to replace it is kind of the opposite of market stabilisation,” Levitt tweeted after the release of the plan.
Thus, it is unlikely this plan gathers much steam, especially in the Senate where it would be subject to a Democratic filibuster.
The full text of the Brady-Hatch will be released at a later date, the statement said.
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