Shaheen, Murphy Introduce Legislation to Counter Trump Administration’s Health Care Sabotage That Will Spike 2020 Out-of-Pocket Costs

November 05, 2019

(Washington, DC) – Today, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) introduced the Fair Indexing for Health Care Affordability Act – legislation to reverse the Trump administration’s recent rule change that would make fewer Americans eligible for the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) premium tax credits, and cause those who are eligible to receive less in tax credit support. Earlier this year, the Trump administration changed the index by which eligibility for the ACA’s premium tax credits and maximum out-of-pocket limits are set each year, resulting in a 2.5 percent increase in the maximum out-of-pocket limit in 2020 compared to where out-of-pocket limits would have been under the old indexing factor. This change results in a $200 increase in the cap on out-of-pocket costs for individuals, and a $400 per year increase for families. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is an original cosponsor of the legislation.

“The Trump administration continues to attack the Affordable Care Act and drive up health care costs for thousands of Granite Staters and millions of Americans. It has to stop,” said Shaheen. “That’s why I’m introducing legislation to reverse one of the Trump administration’s latest efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, which changed eligibility for health care tax credits and spiked out-of-pocket limits for patient’s medical expenses. The President bypassed Congress and implemented new requirements that will cause increases in out-of-pocket costs that American families can ill afford in 2020. I appreciate Senator Murphy’s partnership on this bill, which would invalidate the President’s regulation and protect patients from being forced to pay more out-of-pocket for their care. I will continue to defend the ACA from the administration’s attacks and will keep working to find common-sense solutions to improve our health care law to work for every American.” 

“The goal of the Affordable Care Act was to make health care more accessible for individuals and families, but the Trump administration has been hell bent on doing the opposite. I’m proud to partner with Senator Shaheen to find solutions to lower the cost of care. The Fair Indexing for Health Care Affordability Act reverses the Trump administration’s harmful regulation that increases out of pocket expenses for ACA marketplace plans so families aren’t hit with hundreds of dollars in premium increases next year,” said Murphy.

In April, the Trump administration finalized a regulatory adjustment that, beginning for Plan Year 2020, will change the indexing factor that is used to determine eligibility for the Affordable Care Act’s premium tax credits and calculate the maximum out-of-pocket limit that health plans can set each year. This rule change replaces an indexing factor that is based on premium growth from employer-based plans with a new indexing factor that is based on premium growth across all private plans.

Senator Shaheen has led efforts in the Senate to stabilize the health insurance markets and make health care affordable and accessible for all Americans. She introduced the Marketing and Outreach Restoration to Empower (MORE) Health Education Act of 2019 with Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Gary Peters (D-MI) to counteract Trump administration sabotage efforts that have slashed funding for health care enrollment advertising and marketing by 90 percent since the President took office. She also introduced the Protecting Americans with Pre-existing Conditions Act with Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to prevent the Trump administration from using federal premium tax credits to  promote and incentivize enrollment in “junk plans” that do not provide coverage of pre-existing conditions or essential health benefits. In October, Shaheen, Baldwin and Warner called on the Trump administration to do more to prevent third-party web brokers from steering individuals toward these junk health insurance plans.  

And earlier this year, Shaheen unveiled a health care affordability package that includes three pieces of legislation to reduce health care costs for patients and expand access to critical medical services. Together, the Marketplace Certainty ActImproving Health Insurance Affordability Act and Reducing Costs for Out-of-Network Services Act would make essential reforms to the health care law that would help stabilize the marketplace, lower premiums for middle-class families and combat escalating out-of-pocket health care costs.  

The full text of the legislation is available here.