Their legislation wouldn't permanently fix what's ailing the 2010 law, informally known as Obamacare, Alexander said. But it could provide temporary relief for millions of Americans who in November will begin buying their insurance for next year.
"If the market is collapsing in our face, we need a solution for the year 2017," said Alexander, a
The bill, introduced last Wednesday by Alexander and seven other
States exercising that authority would receive a one-year exemption from an Obamacare provision requiring people to buy a specific plan or pay a fine of up to
Alexander says such steps are necessary given the turbulence in the health-insurance market.
Just last month, insurance giant Aetna announced that next year it will withdraw from the federal online marketplace -- HealthCare.gov -- in most states where the exchange operates.
Around the same time, Tennessee Insurance Commissioner
Cigna was given permission to boost its rates an average 46.3 percent.
The problem stretches far beyond
"This is an immediate problem in our state and the whole country," Alexander said. "Premiums are skyrocketing. Insurance companies are leaving, and families are being left with one choice for insurance."
New census data shows just 10.3 percent of Tennesseans went uninsured in 2015, down from 14.4 percent in 2010. That means that 266,000 more Tennesseans had health coverage in 2015, according to the
The average family premium in
What's more, hospital readmissions for Tennessee Medicare beneficiaries dropped 8.7 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to the
"Affordability, access and quality are how we measure success in our health care system," Health and Human Services Secretary
Making the case that Obamacare is working requires "a vivid imagination," Alexander said.
But getting his legislation passed in time to help Americans buying next year's health insurance will take some ingenuity.
Passing the bill in that time frame "will be hard to do," Alexander said. "But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try."
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