Alexander: Secretary Price is Taking an Important Step to Begin Stabilizing Collapsing Individual Insurance Market

Posted on April 13, 2017

NASHVILLE, April 13 — Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement after Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price released a final rule on health insurance market stabilization:

“Today’s action by Secretary Price is an important step to begin stabilizing the Affordable Care Act’s collapsing individual insurance market," Alexander said. “The urgency remains for Congress and the administration to continue helping the 4 percent of insured Americans--approximately 230,000 Tennesseans-- who don’t get insurance from work or Medicare or Medicaid and buy their insurance on an Affordable Care Act exchange. These are millions of our most vulnerable citizens, and they’re facing higher premiums and few options. Some are even likely to have zero options next year, which means their Obamacare subsidy will be as useful as having a bus ticket in a town with no buses."

Senator Alexander added: “I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the Trump Administration to give states flexibility to offer more choices of lower-cost insurance, stabilize the individual market, and pass my legislation with Senator Corker to give Americans with a subsidy and zero insurers the option to buy insurance offered outside of the Affordable Care Act exchanges.”

Senator Alexander and Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) last month introduced the Health Care Options Act of 2017, legislation to rescue Americans with Affordable Care Act subsidies who have zero options for health insurance on the exchanges for the 2018 and 2019 plan years.

Specifically, the Health Care Options Act of 2017:

  • Will allow Americans who live in counties in which there are zero health insurance options on the Affordable Care Act exchange to use their subsidy to purchase any health insurance plan outside of the exchanges, as long as the insurance is approved for sale by the state. That means Americans on the exchanges will have options to purchase insurance where the Affordable Care Act has left them with none. This option would be given to individuals who live in a county where the Secretary of Health and Human Services certifies there are no options on the ACA exchange.
  • When the HHS Secretary certifies that there are zero insurance options on the exchange, the legislation will waive the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to buy a specific health care plan or pay a fine. The law’s individual mandate penalty will not apply to these individuals.
  • The legislation’s temporary authority would only be in place through the end of the 2019 plan year.