Senate Democrats Try to Stop Trump Administration Progress in Lowering Insurance Premiums | Citizens Against Government Waste

Senate Democrats Try to Stop Trump Administration Progress in Lowering Insurance Premiums

The WasteWatcher

The Senate is debating S. J. Res. 52, a joint resolution that would stop the progress the Trump administration has made to help reduce the cost of premiums and provided more choices in the individual insurance marketplace.  The resolution is being considered under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) and it would disapprove the guidance the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released in October 2018 for states to apply for and receive a Section 1332 State Innovation Waiver.

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has been supportive of the guidance that was released last year that enabled states to “pursue innovative strategies for providing their residents with access to high-quality, affordable health insurance.”  Several states applied for an innovation waiver that allowed them to use federal money to create reinsurance programs.  As a result, their premiums have dropped and more people can afford insurance in the individual marketplace.  At the same time, people with pre-existing conditions are protected.

While the Democrats are using the excuse that CMS is also allowing states to provide short-term, limited-duration healthcare plans (which they call ‘junk plans') as part of the waiver process, they ignore that fact that the states must also provide fully compliant Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) plans too.  Perhaps they did not read CMS’s fact sheet that lays out what states must do to obtain a waiver and the requirements they must follow.

What supporters of this resolution really want is to eliminate the guidance entirely, which would limit choice, and drive up health insurance rates again.  It is part of their effort to drive the country toward single-payer health insurance or Medicare for All.  They believe that federal government meddling in the health insurance market via Obamacare did not go far enough and that Washington D.C. bureaucrats need even more control on deciding what people will get in the way of healthcare.

As of today, 12 states have applied for and received a Section 1332 State Innovation Waiver to operate a reinsurance program that has lowered premiums in their individual health insurance markets.  An August 13, 2019 study by The Heritage Foundation goes into great detail on how successful the waiver program has been.  For example, six of seven states that used the waiver in 2019 to establish a reinsurance program had an average premium decrease of 10.72 percent.  Non-waiver states saw an average increase of 3.09 percent for the benchmark premium.  Five more states expect to see lower premiums in 2020 thanks to the Section 1332 waiver process.

If the Democrats should be successful in their goal and pass S. J. Res 52, and that will only happen with Republican support, the measure will proceed to the House.  That is why CAGW’s lobbying arm, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, sent this letter to the entire Senate.  The vote is cheduled for tomorrow.

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