Legislation sponsored by Missouri’s Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill to fix health care exchanges that have no insurers has gotten a boost.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City – known as Blue KC – announced in late May it would drop-off the exchange, which will leave Missouri with up to 25 “bare counties” with no alternative.
McCaskill’s legislation, introduced prior to the Blue KC announcement, would allow people in affected counties to obtain insurance through “DC Health Link” where most members of Congress and their staff purchase plans.
Her legislation now has momentum with the introduction of a companion measure in the U.S. House sponsored by Iowa Democratic Congressman Dave Loebsack. The bills would let people eligible for subsidies under Obamacare continue to purchase insurance through the Washington D.C. based exchange, which sells national plans.
The measures are designed to offset shortcomings that have developed under the current health care law. It’s unclear what their effect would be under a Republican replacement to Obamacare, since one doesn’t yet exist.
The House passed the Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA) early last month, which has since been languishing in the Senate.
The plan would eliminate the Obamacare subsidies, which are refundable tax credits based on a person’s income and cost of coverage in their area. More than eight in 10 enrollees on the Obamacare exchanges receive this assistance.
The House replacement would also provide refundable tax credits, but they would be based on a person’s age. They would range from $2,000 for those in the 20’s to $4,000 for people in their 60’s.
Missouri’s Republican Senator Roy Blunt, like most of his GOP colleagues, claims the current health care law is doomed to imminent failure.
“Obamacare is collapsing and the status quo is unsustainable” Blunt recently said. “That’s why I’ll continue working to repeal and replace Obamacare with solutions that will expand access to quality, affordable coverage and provide more certainty for Missouri families.”
McCaskill contends many of the problems the healthcare law is experiencing now were brought on by the GOP and President Trump, who has threatened to withhold government payments as a bargaining chip for a new health bill.
When Blue KC announced it was leaving the Missouri exchange two weeks ago, the company said it lost $100 million in the last two years and claimed those hits are not sustainable.
McCaskill says the measures she and Rep. Loebsack are sponsoring will help shore-up health care exchanges in the state. “Giving folks who don’t have access to a local insurance provider the ability to access the same plans that Congress gets is the kind of commonsense solution I think folk on both sides of the aisle can get behind, and I’m thrilled to see some of my colleagues in the House joining that effort.”
The two bills may not get much traction in a Congress with a Republican majority still focused on replacing Obamacare rather than repairing it.