BlueShield of Northeastern New York

Recap of U.S. Senate Hearing on Stabilizing Premiums and Helping Individuals in the Individual Insurance Market for 2018: State Insurance Commissioners 

On Wednesday, September 6, 2017, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pension held a hearing on “Stabilizing Premiums and Helping Individuals in the Individual Insurance Market for 2018: State Insurance Commissioners.” Insurance Commissioners from Oklahoma, Washington, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Alaska testified. At the hearing Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn noted the time crunch Congress faces in passing a bipartisan fix to the troubled individual market, as insurers are expected to finalize rates by September 27th. Chairman Alexander, has said he wants to advance a narrow package that includes funding for the cost-sharing reduction payments for one year and allow additional flexibilities for states to implement changes under the ACA’s so-called 1332 waiver program.


What The Commissioners Said:


  • Application Process: The five commissioners expressed a desire for a streamlined application process for the 1332 waivers, which allow states to bypass certain requirements. 
  • Paying for High-Cost Patients (Reinsurance): Potential legislation could include some form of reinsurance, which provides government funding for high-cost patients, the Commissioners said reinsurance is critical to the individual market’s success.


What Senate Republicans And Democrats Said: 


Republicans and Democrats agreed with the insurance commissioners that Congress should help the individual marketplaces created by the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, the parties remained split on how long to fund consumer subsidies and what types of additional flexibility to give states.


Republican Chairman Lamar Alexander proposed funding cost-sharing subsidies that lower consumers' costs through 2018, in exchange for an undefined amount of additional flexibility through state waivers. Alexander said he remained “hopeful” the two parties could reach a consensus on some of those flexibilities through the law's so-called 1332 waivers. He signaled he was open to funding the subsidies through 2019.


Democrat Ranking Member Patty Murray, Wash., pushed for a “multi-year” solution in her opening remarks. Democrats have also given no sign they are willing to bend on the waivers, which they say are flexible enough.

News and Media

August 3, 2017:
Senators Plan Bipartisan Hearings On Health CareFlip-Flop On Health Care

Dave Anderson, CEO of HealthNow New York, talks with Steve Inskeep about lawmakers' plans to hold bipartisan hearings on health insurance exchanges. NPR's Scott Horsley has details and analysis.


April 27, 2017:
As Trump And Congress Flip-Flop On Health Care, Insurers Try To Plan Ahead.

As part of a coordinated, systemwide Blues advocacy effort to ensure funding for Cost Sharing Reductions, President and CEO Dave Anderson spoke with NPR's All Things Considered.


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