Since last March I have co-chaired with former Senator Tom Daschle a bipartisan group of healthcare leaders at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC). This politically diverse group of five Republicans and five Democrats have consistently called for a two-year extension of the CSR payments. We reiterate that call again today. Time is of the essence. Right now, insurers are filing corrections to their 2018 plan rates and petitioning states to change their service areas. Final premium prices are due August 16, and by September 27 health insurers must sign the final marketplace participation contracts. Many insurers, with the uncertainty of whether CSR payments will continue, have initially filed two different pricing options. Without more certainty of extension, they will use the higher rates that are nearly double what they would be if the CSR payments were continued. Or worse, they may simply pull out altogether at the last minute if the payments are still in jeopardy when these deadlines hit (four major insurers—Anthem, Cigna, Health Care Service Corp and Molina Healthcare—have all said they are weighing pulling out).
At the BPC we have held numerous roundtables and listening sessions with insurers, providers, healthcare leaders, state policymakers, and those on the ground implementing care, and routinely the number one recommendation to stabilize markets in the short-term is to extend the CSR payments . The White House has indicated it plans to make a decision this week, and I urge President Trump to heed the advice of our nation’s healthcare industry and policy leaders, as well as the very real needs of 11 million Americans, and allow payments to continue . It would also avoid ensnaring the Administration in costly lawsuits with states over the payments, which a federal appeals court ruled on August 1st could be permitted.
It’s time to stop the partisan sniping and get to work on crafting sound policy. We should put out the fire and begin to rebuild, instead of letting it all burn to the ground.