The two main sponsors of the legislation designed to control costs under Obamacare confirmed that the federal government has given
"I'm very pleased that the work of the
Passage of the bills creating the reinsurance plan and seeking the waiver were hailed as one of the chief bipartisan accomplishments of
The plan imposes a one-year state tax on insurance companies and uses that revenue to subsidize the most expensive health insurance claims from policies sold through
If lawmakers had done nothing, officials said, the individual market had the potential to collapse weeks before the
The Republican governor worked with Democratic leaders to cushion the blow to ratepayers in the individual health insurance market after
After the bills passed with bipartisan support, Hogan signed them.
"We faced this crisis together," the governor said at the signing ceremony in April.
According to the
"One of the problems with the individual exchange is fewer and fewer people [in the insurance pool] and those who stay are high risk," said Middleton, the longtime chairman of the
A spokeswoman for the
Pena-Melnyk said the waiver will allow the state to create a reinsurance program to shore up a market largely made up of self-employed people and proprietors of "mom-and-pop" businesses too small to buy health insurance on the group market.
"You're talking about over
"This will buy us time," she said.
Pena-Melnyk said about
Premiums on individual insurance policies, which serve people who aren't covered through a job or family member and who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, have shot up in recent years.
The viability of the individual market has been threatened because insurers underestimated the costs of claims and because not enough young, healthy people bought policies to help subsidize the costs of older and less healthy people.
Repeated attempts by President
Middleton said he hopes that by shoring up the individual market, it could eventually be combined with the more stable small group market. But that would depend on reducing the gap between premiums for the two types of plans.
The legislation passed this spring also set up a commission to study the long-term stability of the state's insurance market and proposals to require all
"The reinsurance is great but we need to do [the mandate] also," DeMarco said.
DeMarco said that under the state mandate plan, taxpayers who don't provide for their own health insurance would face a
The plan would bring an estimated 60,000 to100,000 uninsured
Middleton said the state mandate proposal was gaining traction last spring before concerns rose about its administrative costs. But he's optimistic about its chances next year.
"It's got wings," he said.
But Middleton, a leading force in health care legislation for almost two decades, won't be there to help push it through. He was defeated for re-election in June's Democratic primary.
"There's going to be some real heavy lifting," Middleton said.
Federal team in
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