Alexander: CBO Says Alexander-Murray Bill Will Put Rebates in Americans’ Wallets, Will Not Bailout Insurance Companies

Posted on October 25, 2017

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2017 — United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today, in remarks on the Senate floor, announced the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office finds his bipartisan stabilization bill with Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will benefit taxpayers and consumers—not insurance companies.

“The president has said repeatedly, Senator Murray has said repeatedly, I have said repeatedly the Alexander-Murray short term, bipartisan plan to reduce premiums and avoid chaos must not bail out insurance companies,” Alexander said. “We've written language to make sure it does not. Now the Congressional Budget Office says it does not.”

He added: “The Alexander-Murray proposal would reduce the federal deficit by $3.8 billion. Not only does it not cost anything, it saves the taxpayer money.”

On benefits going to patients:

“We have language in our proposal to make sure that benefits go to consumers and to taxpayers and not to insurance companies, and we asked the Congressional Budget Office to review that, and this is what they said: ‘CBO and JCT expect that insurers in almost all areas of the country would be required to issue some form of rebate to individuals and the federal government.’ Let me say that again. This is the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office talking about the Alexander-Murray proposal cosponsored by a total of 24 senators-- 12 Republicans, 12 Democrats—saying: ‘CBO and JCT expect that insurers in almost all areas of the country would be required to issue some form of rebate to individuals and the federal government.’: 

“So the Congressional Budget Office has found that our proposal benefits taxpayers and benefits consumers, not insurance companies. The specific benefit to the taxpayers is $3.1 billion. The exact benefit to consumers isn't determined yet because that will be state by state.”

On benefits going to taxpayers:

“This is what the Congressional Budget Office said. ‘On net, the CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that implementing the legislation would reduce the deficit by $3.8 billion over the 2018 to 2027 period relative to CBO’s baseline.’

“In other words, the Alexander-Murray proposal would reduce federal spending by $3.8 billion. Not only does it not cost anything, it saves the taxpayer money.”

On new plan choices:

“There is a provision in the bill for a catastrophic plan. That is a new insurance plan for people over the age of 29 that would have lower premiums and higher deductibles, but it would allow people to afford an insurance policy so a medical catastrophe didn't turn into a financial catastrophe.

“CBO estimates that ‘making catastrophic plans part of a single risk pool would slightly lower premiums for other non-group plans because the people who enroll in catastrophic plans tend to be healthier on average than other non-group market enrollees.’ A major objective, I think, of all of us is to attract more young, healthy people into the pool as a way of lowering rates for everybody.

“As a result of the slightly lower estimated premiums, CBO and JCT expect that federal costs for subsidies purchased through marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act would decline by about $1.1 billion over 2018-2027.

On process:

“The bill is cosponsored by 12 Republican senators and 12 Democratic senators -- not many pieces of legislation come to the floor with that support. And the reason we accelerated work on it was that President Trump called me and asked me to work with Senator Murray to try to develop such a proposal. Now it's being considered by the president, by the House of Representatives, by other members of this body.

“It does not bail out insurance companies. It does benefit consumers. It does benefit taxpayers to the tune of $3.8 billion. That's very important information. I'm encouraged by the president's comment yesterday. He thanked me at our luncheon for working in a bipartisan way on this. I’m encouraged that Senator Hatch and Kevin Brady have introduced a bill recognizing the importance of continuing cost-sharing.

“The ball is in the hands of the White House right now. They have our recommendation. They made some suggestions, that’s the normal legislative process.

“I'm hopeful that something that has this kind of analysis-- that it doesn't bail out insurance companies, that avoids a big increase to the federal debt, that makes certain that people will be able to buy insurance for the next couple of years, that begins to lower premiums that almost all Democrats want and that Republicans in the House have all voted for once this year when they voted for their repeal and replace bill-- that sounds like something that might become law before the end of the year. And I believe the sooner the better.”