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BPC Health Policy Experts Urge Congress to Extend CSR Subsidies by Mid-August

Headshot of Joann Donnellan
Joann Donnellan

Washington, D.C.– The following is a statement from the Bipartisan Policy Center Expert Panel on the Future of Health Care, as the Senate prepares to vote on the motion to proceed with legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act:

“No matter the outcome of this week’s vote, it is imperative that Congress and the Trump administration act immediately to ensure the stability of the individual health insurance market in the short term and over at least the next two years. In order to achieve this, it is critical that Congress take action at a minimum to appropriate funding for cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidy payments through 2019.

“Failing to provide this funding certainty by mid-August would result in significant premium increases for consumers in the individual market or require a disruptive delay in the start of the 2018 Open Enrollment period. Neither outcome is acceptable. Premium increases would result in fewer healthier individuals enrolling in coverage, consequently destabilizing the insurance market. Equally troubling, there likely would be more plans pulling out of counties.

BPC’s Future of Health Care Initiative has held many events, private discussions, and interviews with stakeholders on these issues over the past four months. We have concluded that action must be taken immediately to stabilize the individual insurance market. Extending the CSR payments will avoid unnecessary increases in insurance premiums for consumers while not adding to the federal deficit, as the spending levels for these payments are already included in the Congressional Budget Office’s baseline estimate.

“Republicans, Democrats, consumers, hospitals, caregivers, and insurers all agree there is a lot of room for improving and reforming America’s health care system. Over the next several months, we encourage Congress to have serious bipartisan conversations to improve the Medicare and Medicaid programs to ensure better quality and value in these programs.

“These are urgent issues that deserve thoughtful and transparent policymaking that engages the concerns and ideas of both parties. The nation deserves a resilient outcome that invests both parties in effective implementation. BPC will continue to promote an approach to health care policy that reflects the best ideas and difficult compromises from both parties.”

This statement is from the BPC’s Expert Panel on the Future of Health Care: Former Senate Majority Leaders Bill Frist, M.D. (R-TN) and Tom Daschle (D-SD); former Acting Administrator CMS Andy Slavitt; former HCFA Administrator Gail Wilensky; Avik Roy, BPC senior advisor and president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity; Cindy Mann, former director, Center for Medicaid; James Capretta, resident fellow, Milton Friedman chair, AEI; Alice Rivlin, senior fellow, Center for Health Policy, Brookings Institution; Sheila Burke, BPC fellow and strategic advisor, Baker Donelson; and Chris Jennings, BPC fellow and president of Jennings Policy Strategies.

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