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Nation's insurance commissioners tell Congress to support CSR payments

Group wants a commitment that cost-sharing reduction payments will be fully funded in 2017 budget and in 2018.

Susan Morse, Associate Editor

The nation's state insurance commissioners have added their voice to those urging Congress to fully fund federal payments to insurers which participate in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces.

Writing on behalf of the nation's state insurance commissioners, the insurance commission heads in Wisconsin, Tennessee and Maine urged House Speaker Paul Ryan and other majority leaders, as well as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democrats, to fund the cost-sharing reduction payments for 2017 in the upcoming budget resolution, and to fully fund the program in 2018.

"Your action is critical to the viability and stability of the individual health insurance markets in a significant number of states across the country," they wrote.  "The one concern carriers consistently raise as they consider whether to participate and how much to charge in 2018 is the uncertainty surrounding the federal cost-sharing reduction payments."

[Also: Several states push back premium rate filing deadline as uncertainty surrounds cost-sharing reduction payments]

Uncertainty could add 15 to 20 percent to premium rates, they said.

Insurers are currently considering whether to participate in the exchanges, and there is a concern that insurers will pull out of the ACA market leaving consumers with fewer or no options in some states, they said.

"This is not a theoretical argument – carriers have already left the individual market in several states, and too many counties have only one carrier remaining," they said. "Funding the cost-sharing reduction payments will go a long way toward stabilizing the individual markets in our states while legislative replacement and reform options are debated in Congress."

[Also: Insurers tell Seema Verma number one concern is cost-sharing reduction payments]

The April 19 letter was sent on behalf of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the Center for Insurance Policy and Research by NAIC President and Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Theodore Nickel,  NAIC President-elect and Tennessee Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak, and NAIC Vice President Eric Cioppa, superintendent of the Maine Bureau of Insurance.

America's Health Insurance Plans and other healthcare organizations have written to President Trump and to Congress. On Tuesday, insurance executives met with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma on what they said was their number one concern: continuing CSRs.

They have gotten no promise that the funding would continue, according to AHIP.  The subsidies allow insurers to offer lower deductibles to low-income consumers who buy coverage on the exchanges.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse

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