Alexander Tells Elizabethton: I’m Working to Help 1,700 in Carter County Trapped in Collapsing Individual Insurance Market

Tells Elizabethton Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs, “Commissioner McPeak is urging Congress to give more flexibility back to states to help stabilize and regulate their markets”

Posted on April 18, 2017

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn., April 18, 2017 — U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today told members of the Kiwanis Club of Elizabethton that he is working to give Tennessee the flexibility it needs to help Tennesseans trapped in the state’s collapsing Obamacare exchange. Tennesseans who buy their insurance on the Obamacare exchange face increased premiums and fewer options as high health care costs and one-size fits all Washington regulations have made it too costly for several insurance companies to operate in Tennessee.  If the two remaining insurers in Carter County pull out of the exchange next year, about 1,700 Elizabethton area residents with insurance subsidies who will have zero options for health insurance on the exchanges next year.

Alexander said, “There are about 1,700 Elizabethton area residents who rely on an Affordable Care Act subsidy to purchase insurance on the exchange, and if the two remaining insurers pull out of the exchange for 2018, these subsidies will be worth as much as bus tickets in a town with no buses running. Unless Congress and the president act soon, these Tennesseans – some of the most vulnerable citizens in our state – are likely to have zero options of insurance in 2018. Congress has a responsibility to continue to work to solve this problem for these Tennesseans and millions of Americans in other states facing the same dire circumstances.” 

Earlier this year, Alexander, as chairman of the Senate health committee, held a hearing on the need to stabilize the individual market and invited Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Julie McPeak to discuss specific solutions and a timeline for addressing the problem.

“Tennessee’s Insurance Commissioner Julie McPeak has been warning since August that our state’s Obamacare insurance exchange is ‘very near collapse.’ Testifying at a Senate health committee hearing earlier this year, Commissioner McPeak urged Congress to give more flexibility back to states to help stabilize and regulate their markets.” 

Today, Alexander talked about legislation he introduced on March 29 with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) to rescue Americans with Affordable Care Act subsidies who have zero options for health insurance on the exchanges for the 2018 plan year.

“I recently introduced legislation with Sen. Corker that would help those in Tennessee and across the country by allowing any American who receives a subsidy and has no insurance available on their exchange next year to use that subsidy to buy any state-approved insurance outside of the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Second, the bill would waive the Affordable Care Act requirement that Americans in these counties, who have zero insurance options with their subsides, have to pay a penalty for not purchasing insurance.  And third, this legislation will help bring peace of mind between now and the beginning of next year to millions of Americans, some of the most vulnerable people in the country, who face having zero options of health insurance to purchase with their subsidy.”

A full summary of the Health Care Options Act of 2017 is available HERE.

Alexander concluded, “Our health care system is complex, but our goal should be simple:  give Americans more choices of lower-cost insurance by moving more health care decisions out of Washington, D.C., to states and patients – and that is what I am working to do. It’s time to stop fighting like the Hatfields and the McCoys over Obamacare – Tennesseans expect Congress and the Trump administration to work together to quickly fix the Obamacare emergency in our state.”