Trump's latest move could push Obamacare premiums higher


This image shows the main page of the website in Washington, May 21, 2018.

CMS is freezing $10.4 billion in Affordable Care Act risk-adjusted payments, created to stabilize the insurance market by redistributing money to insurers with higher-cost members. Administration officials tout these plans as more affordable, but they're cheaper because they don't have to meet the ACA's requirements for decent health plans, like including maternity care and prescription drug coverage, and charging the same rate for people with preexisting conditions.

The excuse Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is giving is that they believe the navigators don't sign up as many people as private entities like insurance brokers.

Since Congress was unable to pass such a law, Trump and his aides have been taking a series of steps to weaken the law through administration maneuvers.

When the ACA was passed in 2010, one of the most important tenets of the law was the rule stating that insurers must accept all patients regardless of their health history.

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Groups that apply for navigator grants will now be expected to encourage clients to buy those two types of insurance.

CMS now wants the navigators to promote these policies in addition to steering people toward ACA-compliant plans and Medicaid.

The ACA navigator program will also use performance-based system when CMS allocates funds.

The announcement also said navigators helped enroll fewer than 1 percent of the almost 12 million Americans who signed up for ACA coverage for 2018 - a figure that navigators contend understates their accomplishments.

"This action will significantly increase 2019 premiums for millions of individuals and small business owners and could result in far fewer health plan choices", said Scott Serota, CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which represents 36 independent insurers, many of whom are key players on the exchanges. This year they helped sign up almost 520,000 people for health insurance sold through the ACA exchange in North Carolina.

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The spending cut is only one shift that CMS announced Tuesday.

Over the a year ago, the White House has issued a number of executive orders and undertaken administrative actions to undercut the program popularly known as Obamacare. "In general, when there's uncertainty in the market, insurers will cushion themselves however they can", she said.

As for the priority given to applicants that help spread the word about non-ACA health plans, Edwards said: "It's inappropriate". They draw healthy men and women, leaving them exposed to significant medical bills should they get ill actually, as they induce insurance companies to jack up costs for broader coverage.

The cut will impact navigators, the nonprofit organizations which the federal government pays to assist with registration in the countries which use due to their online market for individuals attempting to have protection through the Affordable Care Act. If there is an imbalance of high-risk customers among companies, the government uses a formula to redistribute money from less-burdened companies to more-burdened ones. These limited benefit plans will compete directly with the comprehensive insurance on the exchanges, and navigators will be forced to sell consumers on them.

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