The American Health Care Act had a tough time passing the House of Representatives. Now it faces an even tougher test at it moves to a Senate that appears likely to want to start over with their own version of the health care bill.
But although the battle to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is far from over, spokespeople for two organizations representing health insurance agents and brokers said that Thursday’s House vote is a positive step for the agent community.
Stabilizing the individual health insurance marketplace has been a priority of the National Association of Health Underwriters as it makes its members’ views known in Washington. Marcy Buckner, NAHU vice president of government affairs, told InsuranceNewsNet that the House bill contains many provisions that would help to stabilize the marketplace.
“We do support some of the market stability pieces that are in the AHCA, and it does recognize agents and brokers as being the consumer-facing entity for enrollment in the future. That’s obviously very good for NAHU members, and agents and brokers in general,” she said.
Among the provisions that Buckner said would stabilize the individual marketplace is the creation of the Patient and State Stability Fund, which will transfer $15 billion from the Treasury to the states in each of 2018 and 2019, and then $10 billion per year from 2020 through 2026.
Key points about the proposed Patient and State Stability Fund include:
- States are given considerable flexibility in how they use the funds
- In order to receive funds, states will have to provide a matching contribution
- For states that do not apply for funds, the federal government will establish a default reinsurance program
- The amount each state receives will be based on a formula that takes into account the state’s incurred claims, the number of uninsured, and insurer participation in the individual market
Buckner also pointed to the establishment of high-risk pools and incentives for continuous coverage as other provisions that would help stabilize the marketplace.
Ronnell Nolan, president and CEO of Health Agents for America, said that although a repeal of the ACA is still a long way off, HAFA members see Thursday’s House vote as “some hope for change.”
“The House vote one part of the process but it’s an indication that change could happen,” she said. “For the past seven years, agents and brokers have not been treated fairly, and this could be the change that could help them get their jobs back.”
“We’ve got a long way to go but we’re excited about the potential for change going forward!”
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at Susan.Rupe@innfeedback.com.
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