Posted on August 22, 2017
WASHINGTON, August 22, 2017 — Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today announced the Senate health committee will hear from state insurance commissioners and governors, respectively, at the first two bipartisan hearings in September on stabilizing premiums in the individual insurance market.
Senator Alexander said: “Eighteen million Americans, including 350,000 Tennesseans – songwriters, farmers, and the self-employed – do not get their health insurance from the government or on the job, which means they must buy insurance in the individual market. My goal by the end of September is to give them peace of mind that they will be able to buy insurance at a reasonable price for the year 2018. While there are a number of issues with the American health care system, if your house is on fire, you want to put out the fire, and the fire in this case is in the individual health insurance market. Unless Congress acts by September 27—when insurance companies must sign contracts with the federal government to sell insurance on the federal exchange in 2018— 9 million Americans in the individual market who receive no government help purchasing health insurance and whose premiums have already skyrocketed may see their premiums go up even more. Even those with subsidies in up to half our states may find themselves with zero options for buying health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges in 2018.”
He added, “At these hearings, we will hear testimony from state insurance commissioners and governors—those closest to the problem—on steps Congress can take to help make insurance available at affordable prices. Any solution that Congress passes for a 2018 stabilization package will have to be small, bipartisan and balanced. It should give states more flexibility in approving insurance policies by improving section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act as well as fund the cost-sharing reduction payments to help stabilize premiums for 2018. I look forward to finishing our work by the end of September in time to have an effect on the health insurance policies sold in 2018 and to give these millions of Americans the peace of mind that they will be able to buy health insurance for next year.”
Senator Murray said: “It is clearer than ever that the path to continue making health care work better for patients and families isn’t through partisanship or backroom deals. It is through working across the aisle, transparency, and coming together to find common ground where we can. I’m pleased to announce with Chairman Alexander that our first two bipartisan hearings in the HELP Committee will be dedicated to hearing from state insurance commissioners and governors from across the country. These state leaders understand full well the challenges facing health care today and many have been outspoken about how the uncertainty caused by this Administration has impacted the individual insurance market and therefore families’ premiums for 2018. Through these and other planned public hearings, we have the critical opportunity to work together toward an agreement by the end of September to help prevent millions of patients and families from paying more for the care they need next year. It is my hope that we can act quickly and in a responsible manner that builds upon our efforts to make health care more affordable, accessible, and higher quality for all.”
Details for the first two hearings:
Wednesday, Sept. 6: Stabilizing Premiums and Helping Individuals in the Individual Insurance Market for 2018: State Insurance Commissioners
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Thursday, Sept. 7: Stabilizing Premiums and Helping Individuals in the Individual Insurance Market for 2018: Governors
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Note: The committee intends to have more bipartisan hearings on the individual insurance market and those details will be announced at a later date. Witnesses for the first two hearings will also be announced at a later date.