Administration Puts in Place Herculean Hurdles for States to Obtain ACA Waivers
Congressional Documents & Publications
Washington, DC -- Today the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of the Treasury revealed full details of the state waiver process under Section 1332 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Unfortunately, the guidance builds in more barriers against state control and innovation. It maintains that states must jump through a series of legislative, budget, and coverage hoops to obtain a waiver and gives the administration significant arbitrary control to approve or deny state requests. Rep. Hultgren has introduced legislation, H.R. 3352, the State Health Care Options Act, to ease such hurdles and allow states to opt out of certain provisions of the law and pursue their own alternatives.
"Premiums in my home state of Illinois are expected to increase about 30 percent next year. Individuals and families are paying the price. They have limited choice of insurance providers and are facing unsustainably high monthly premiums and deductibles. ACA costs are through the roof and still rising. We must fix the situation now and stop playing politics," said Rep. Hultgren. "This new guidance from the administration does nothing to allay my concerns about states' inability to access ACA waivers as an important tool to innovate outside the federal government's constraints and reduce the cost of health insurance for my constituents."
Most notably, the guidance reiterates that applying states must provide coverage at least as comprehensive and affordable as coverage offered under the ACA. Affordability is among the ACA's chief problems, and the law's restrictive coverage requirements all but guarantee that individuals, families, and employers are paying for coverage they do not want or need.
"That is why I introduced H.R. 3352, the State Health Care Options Act of 2015," said Rep. Hultgren. "This legislation would give states real access to more comprehensive ACA waivers by streamlining application requirements and expanding the applicability of the waiver to the law's exchange requirements. My constituents need relief now. They shouldn't have to choose between health insurance coverage and putting food on the table and a roof over their heads. The administration is doubling down on an already inaccessible and unworkable waiver that, if fixed, could be a parachute off the ACA's most burdensome provisions for states in need of better ideas, affordable markets, and more choice."