Missouri’s Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is introducing legislation to prevent counties from having no insurers on their health care exchanges.
The measure is preventative as all counties have providers, although 97 counties in Missouri and many more across the country are limited to just one.
Under McCaskill’s plan, people without an option would be able to buy healthcare insurance from the exchange in Washington D.C.
That market has national plans which provide work based coverage for the staff of every congress member. The difference is, instead of getting an employer contribution, people on the exchange would be getting the same subsidies currently offered in exchanges in their state.
McCaskill says it’s one of many ideas she has to address shortcomings in Obamacare. “So in many ways this solution is elegant, because it gives people who don’t have an option the same options that members of Congress and their staff get” said McCaskill.
McCaskill’s plan would instruct the Treasury Department and the Department of Health and Human Services to set up a mechanism to give people in the states access to the national plans. Insurance would still be provided through the marketplace, as it now is within exchanges throughout the country.
Like all Congressional Democrats, McCaskill wants to preserve the Affordable Care Act created under President Obama. She claims some Senate Republicans are coming to the realization that their stated goal to “repeal and replace” the health care system is unworkable.
“Now they own government, and they own healthcare, and they’re struggling. But they have this big problem in that they’ve promised their base…repeal. So for them to start talking about repair, you’re beginning to see them around the edges talking about repair.”
During a May 7th Meet the Press appearance, Missouri’s Republican Senator Roy Blunt indicated Democrats could be abandoning the Affordable Care Act.
“I saw one of my Democrat colleagues said that this system isn’t working” said Blunt. “And he said ‘I’m maybe willing to be part of a repeal and replace strategy’. We need to and see more of that.”
During the TV program, Blunt claimed the problem with Obamacare now is that people can’t access coverage because deductibles are too high. He also said the current health care arrangement is “dramatically wrong” because a third of the counties in the country have only one provider on their exchanges.
McCaskill contends many of the problems the healthcare law has now were brought on by Republicans and Trump.
Under the Obama administration, the government paid insurance companies extra money, including $7 billion last year, so they could keep plans affordable for relatively poor consumers.
Republican sued, contending the payments were unconstitutional, and won. But the decision hasn’t taken effect because of an appeal. The next court date is Monday. President Trump has said he might withhold the government payments as a bargaining chip for a new health bill.
McCaskill contends the unclear signals sent by Trump are undermining the health care system. “That’s what’s causing this disruption in the insurance market. It’s not something in Obamacare. It’s the failure of the Trump administration to reassure the insurance companies that the payments that they have received will be forthcoming.”
The current Republican replacement plan is a House bill that several Senate Republicans have said is not workable. McCaskill thinks the GOP will be forced to work with Democrats to fix existing problems with Obamacare.
“I believe that we will eventually get to the point that there will be an acknowledgement, that no matter what we call it, that we’re repairing what we have now.”
In a statement to Missourinet, Blunt didn’t waver from the Republican stance to do away with the current health care system. ”
“Obamacare is collapsing and the status quo is unsustainable. 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.”