Trump administration aims to extend filing deadlines for ACA exchange plans

The CMS has extended the deadline for filing qualified health plan applications from May 3 to June 21. (Getty/toeytoey2530)

As health insurers voice increasing concerns about the stability of the Affordable Care Act exchanges, the Trump administration now plans to give them more time to decide whether to participate in 2018.

While the initial deadline for filing qualified health plan (QHP) applications had been May 3, according to the original timetable from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a recently revised timetable extends the deadline to June 21. That would also be the new deadline for all issuers to submit rate table templates for single risk pool coverage that includes a QHP.

The agency said it would extend several other deadlines as well, such as moving the date by which states must send the CMS their final plan recommendations from Sept. 15 to Sept. 27. However, the CMS slightly moved up the deadline for insurers to petition to change their service areas, as well as the deadline for insurers to petition to make changes in their QHP applications.

But overall, the revised deadlines are “clearly” intended to allow insurers more time to decide whether they will offer plans on the exchanges in 2018, healthcare policy expert Tim Jost writes in a Health Affairs Blog post. The move comes as part of a new draft rule from the Trump administration that attempts to stabilize the ACA marketplaces. Similar proposals introduced by Congress also aim to address insurers’ concerns.

However, some insurance industry leaders say that neither Congress nor the Trump administration has introduced certain policies they see as critical to stabilize the marketplaces, such as temporarily funding subsidies for low-income individuals. And at a recent congressional hearing earlier this month, experts testified that Congress would have to act to shore up the marketplaces by March in order to give insurers enough time to decide whether to participate.

Already, Humana has said it will drop out of the exchanges in 2018, and insurers including Aetna, Anthem, Cigna and Molina have said they are still weighing their options.

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