Republican lawmakers have officially unveiled their plan to stabilize the ACA exchanges: a bill that includes proposals to fund reinsurance and cost-sharing reduction payments.
The bill is co-sponsored by Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, in the Senate and Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Ryan Costello, R-Pa., in the House. Alexander had already shared details from the legislation ahead of its official release on Monday.
The Republicans want to get the ACA fixes into the omnibus spending bill, which must be finalized by the end of this week. But, in a blow to the effort, the House left the stabilization language out of its version of the spending plan, The Hill reported. The Senate is considering a vote that would add the fixes into their version of the bill, potentially forcing the House to accept them.
"They're not in there at this point, and that is unfortunate," Walden told the outlet. "We're going to see what we can do moving forward, perhaps in the Senate."
Some of the key elements of the bill (PDF) include:
- Three years of funding for reinsurance, totaling $10 billion per year.
- Three years of funding for CSRs.
- Authorization for new copper plans, which would allow more people to purchase catastrophic coverage.
- A requirement that Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar issue a rule to allow payers to sell insurance across state lines.
- Transparency for people who may want to purchase short-term insurance plans, and room for states to add additional regulations.
- Hyde Amendment provisions that would prevent federal subsidies from funding abortions.
But even if they can include the ACA fixes in the omnibus bill, Republicans are heading into a showdown with Democrats over the abortion language in the legislation, which could jeopardize its chances of passing by the Friday deadline.
The office of Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who had been working closely with Alexander on a bipartisan ACA stabilization bill, criticized the bill in a statement on Twitter.
"I am disappointed that Republicans are pushing a partisan bill that includes an unacceptable last-minute attack on women's health on what should be bipartisan work to lower health care costs," Murray said.
As if that weren't enough, this new partisan bill also threatens patients with pre-existing conditions by trying to lock in the Trump junk insurance plan into law. Let's get back to working together to reduce costs. https://t.co/AWRbYrSieY— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) March 19, 2018
Murray previously said the abortion language was a "non-starter" in negotiations with Democrats. In the lower chamber, however, Speaker Paul Ryan said he would not bring to a vote any bill that didn't include abortion restrictions.
If Congress can get the fixes passed, though, it has support from the White House. President Donald Trump told Alexander and Collins that he supports the legislation, sources told The Washington Post. He also called other members of congress to back the bill, according to the article.