Senate Democratic Leadership Urges Leader McConnell to Vote on Shaheen Legislation to Stabilize Health Insurance Markets & Decrease Premiums

July 10, 2017

(Washington, DC) – A letter sent by Senate Democratic Leadership today to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling for bipartisan work on healthcare reform highlighted legislation introduced by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that would help stabilize the health insurance marketplaces. Sen. Shaheen’s Marketplace Certainty Act would help bring stability to the marketplaces by permanently appropriating cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) and expanding this vital affordability program to more Americans. The Trump administration is causing chaos in the health insurance marketplace by refusing to commit to payments provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that help Americans afford insurance coverage. This uncertainty has caused insurers to raise premiums and even leave ACA marketplaces altogether.

 

Sen. Shaheen’s legislation is among a number of proposals put forward by Senate Democrats that would help provide stability to the health insurance markets. Upon introducing the bill in late June, Sen. Shaheen asked the Senate to unanimously approve her legislation to provide certainty in the healthcare marketplaces and lower premiums for consumers. Her effort was blocked by Senate Republican leadership. 

 

Sen. Shaheen is also an original co-sponsor of the Individual Health Insurance Marketplace Improvement Act, which would provide certainty in the marketplace by creating a permanent reinsurance program for the individual health insurance market, similar to the successful programs used to lower premiums and spur competition in the Medicare Part D program. This reinsurance program would provide funding to offset larger than expected insurance claims for health insurance companies participating in the state and federal insurance marketplaces, encouraging them to offer more plans in a greater number of markets, improving competition and driving down costs for patients and families.

 

The letter, written by U.S. Senate Democratic Leaders Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), can be found here and below:

 

Dear Leader McConnell:

 

In preparation for the July work period, we urge you to focus on immediately advancing policies to provide stability and certainty to the health insurance markets.  

We appreciate your recent comments about ensuring stability for the private health insurance markets. 

 

We believe it is important for the Senate to focus on common sense reforms to make the health care system more affordable and workable for American families, including guaranteeing cost-sharing reduction payments, creating a permanent reinsurance program, addressing areas in the country without insurers, and easing the current cliff on cost-sharing subsidies.  Such reforms would have an immediate effect in stabilizing the market while lowering premiums.  Legislation has already been introduced to address a number of these areas which could be taken up immediately, including:   

            

  • Senator Shaheen's S.1462, The Marketplace Certainty Act, which would ensure cost-sharing reduction payments‎ are made in order to help stabilize the marketplaces, giving the program permanent certainty for more middle-class families;

 

  • Senators Carper, Kaine, Nelson and Shaheen's S. 1354, the Individual Health Insurance Marketplace Improvement Act, which would create a permanent reinsurance program to stabilize the market and bring down premiums;

 

  • Senator McCaskill's S. 1201, the Health Care Options for All Act, which would establish a mechanism to ensure that people that find themselves in a county without an insurer offering coverage will still have an option to access health insurance. 

 

  • Senator Heitkamp’s proposal to help more families afford health insurance in the individual market by smoothing the “subsidy cliff” for people who earn even nominal sums over 400 federal poverty level.

 

We stand ready to work on these and other reforms to the current system and urge you to join us in advancing measures that would have an immediate impact on improving the health care system for American families.

                       

Senator Charles E. Schumer

Senator Dick Durbin

Senator Patty Murray

Senator Debbie Stabenow