ACHP Media Monitoring Report: May 17, 2017

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Senate debates tax credits, voters support Medicaid expansion
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cannot guarantee that the upper chamber will keep the tax cuts included in the House health care bill. The House bill repeals the requirement that individuals get health insurance and that most employers provide it to their workers. It also winds down Medicaid expansion and eliminates almost $1 trillion in taxes on the wealthy, insurers, drugmakers and others used to fund the law. Moderate Senators say the tax cuts are too large, and are searching for a bipartisan path forward. And the public may agree. According to a Morning Consult/POLITICO survey, nearly half of voters said they wanted Congress to keep the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid intact.

Republicans debate ways to stabilize market
Republican Senators are discussing how to stabilize the ACA marketplaces next year and have considered a short-term stabilization bill. They have also not written off taking Congressional action to fund the ACA subsidies for low-income enrollees. Currently, the Administration has not committed to the payments past May, and the filing rate deadline for insurers is June 21.  An analysis by consulting firm Oliver Wyman indicates that Trump’s threat to end the subsidies could encourage enrollment in the exchanges. Cutting off the subsidies to the lowest-income consumers could result in the government providing larger tax credits to more people, allowing them to purchase health coverage for very little cost.

AHCA could hit 6 million with pre-existing conditions
A Kaiser Family Foundation report shows that under the ACHA, 6.3 million people with pre-existing conditions might be vulnerable to higher premiums in states that get waivers from ACA rules. If that many people could be hit with higher rates, the $8 billion fund allocated in the AHCA to help cover their costs could be stretched pretty thin.

End of SHOP could limit options for employees
Ending enrollment through the Federally Facilitated SHOP exchange for small businesses could diminish the coverage choices employees, leaving some with few or only one plan option from a single insurer. The author points out that the SHOP exchange did not work as envisioned, with the tax credit aimed at very small employers and a difficult application process.