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Health Insurers’ Leaked Letter Seeks Tweaks to GOP Healthcare Bill

By Craig Bannister | March 9, 2017 | 3:29pm EST
GOP bill to replace Obamacare.

A letter to HHS Secretary Tom Price and House members by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) seeks changes to the GOP’s bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

While supportive of the vast majority of the bill’s content, the leaked letter, which AHIP provided to CNSNews.com, requests three changes to the bill:

  1. Additional Medicaid funding,
  2. Providing tax credits based on income, not just age, and
  3. Moving states’ deadline for establishing risk pools up a year

Regarding Medicaid, AHIP warns that inadequate funding could deprive those in need of drug abuse and behavioral health treatment from obtaining the care they need:

“We believe that Medicaid funding should be adequate to meet the healthcare needs of beneficiaries.  We are concerned that key components of the proposed new funding formulas starting in 2020 – such as the base year selection and annual increases tied to the consumer price index for medical care – could result in unnecessary disruptions in the coverage and care beneficiaries depend on. 

“For example, Medicaid health plans are at the forefront of providing coverage for and access to behavioral health services and treatment for opioid use disorders, and insufficient funding could jeopardize the progress being made on these important public health fronts.”

AHIP also recommends the bill be modified to ensure that those in financial need get higher tax credits, regardless of age, by adjusting the tax-credit formula to provide higher tax credits for those with incomes of up to 400% of poverty level:

“We support a tax credit formula that factors in both age and income similar to the approach described in the Hatch-Burr-Upton proposal:  age bands would be based on a 5:1 ratio, while providing higher (government) contributions for individuals with incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

“Tax credits related to age as well as income will help ensure that more people stay covered, and are the most efficient and effective way to allocate tax-payer dollars.”

Finally, AHIP says that states should be required to institute risk pool funding by 2017, not 2018, because abolishing the mandate to buy insurance will increase “short-term instability to the market”:

“Given the proposed changes to immediately eliminate the penalties associated with the individual coverage requirement would add to short-term instability in the market, we support moving up the timetable to establish additional risk pool funding as soon as 2017.”

The letter was send to Sec. Price, House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), and members of the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees.

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is the national association for organizations that provide coverage for health care and related services.

Read full letter.

 

 

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