Senate Democrats want to shift a bipartisan Affordable Care Act stabilization bill further to the left, a move that is likely to run into resistance from the other side of the aisle.
Sen. Patty Murray and her Democratic colleagues want the legislation to include additional funding for ACA enrollment outreach and to establish a reinsurance program, Axios reported. And while the current bill would just restore cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments that were canceled by the Trump administration, Democrats are now interested in both expanding access to ACA subsidies and increasing their value.
Plus, they're asking for the bill to prevent the sale of "junk plans," short-term insurance plans that would not comply with ACA requirements, according to the article.
Murray and other Democrats are asking for the changes to account for the repeal of the individual mandate, which was rolled back as part Republicans' tax reform legislation. Eliminating the tax penalty is likely to lead to premium increases as healthy people may choose to leave the insurance pools.
Senators of both parties have been optimistic about prospects of two ACA stabilization bills, which includes the measure drafted by Murray and GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander, plus a reinsurance bill championed by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. Previously, Collins agreed to back the GOP's tax bill in exchange for a promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that ACA stabilization legislation would pass by the end of 2017.
House Republicans pose the largest hurdle to getting an ACA stabilization bill passed, but some GOP representatives have indicated that they're warming up to the idea. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa., said that the change of heart "reflects the political reality that we are not going to be doing some large, sweeping healthcare bill in the next year."