Maryland insurers say Trump Administration to cut health payments destabilizes market

Maryland insurers say Trump Administration to cut health payments destabilizes market

In justifying the cuts, CMS said the program is an "established marketplace" heading into its sixth year, so many people are more familiar with it.

To fully understand the administration's latest move, a little history is in order.

Seemingly every move the Trump administration has made when it comes to healthcare has been created to maximize the harm to the insurance programs launched or expanded under Obamacare.

All of this increases the risk payers take by participating in a federally sponsored program, and it makes it more hard for payers and providers to reach deals with which all parties are comfortable, he adds.

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"Yes, the money matters, but what's more important is (insurers) being clear on the rules of the road so they can run a business properly", said Ceci Connolly, CEO of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, an industry group for nonprofit, community-based insurers.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service said Saturday it was halting the payments due to a judge's ruling. It's also taken other actions recently that will increase costs.

Insurers were required to meet a June deadline to say in which in counties they'll sell insurance, as well as which kind of plans - so those are locked in, pending a state review. This introduces uncertainty into the ACA markets just as insurers are deciding next year's rates.

A professor who follows Obamacare said it is unclear if the payments' suspension will result in higher premiums.

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So the suspension of risk adjustment payments could throw the rate-filing process into chaos, said Cynthia Fox, director of health reform and private insurance at Kaiser Family Foundation.

Although small insurance plans and some cooperatives complained that Obamacare risk adjustment skewed in favor of bigger, entrenched players, almost all insurers condemned the CMS ruling to freeze the risk adjustments.

"President Trump indicated his support for the plan the day after its publication, tweeting: "...on conservative health plan: "'The White House fully supports the efforts of the broad coalition from around the country working to address the Obamacare disaster and increase affordable healthcare options for middle-class Americans'". There could have been a "substantive and thoughtful conversation" about what more needs to be done, she said. But insurers are also responding with higher premiums, making coverage significantly more expensive for some of the Americans who shop there and - because the government subsidizes low-income consumers in the exchanges - driving up the cost to federal taxpayers. Taken together, these moves will have the effect of damaging the ACA's marketplaces by attracting younger, healthier people, while forcing older, sicker people to either pay more for insurance or purchase sub-par insurance that might not cover services they need. In 2016, funding for navigator groups was $63 million, so the most recent funding cut represents an 80% reduction from two years ago. Tuesday's notice was the first information CMS has provided this year. The counselors, known as navigators, help consumers find an affordable health plan on the ACA exchanges.

These plans, however, aren't required to have the same consumer protections as ACA policies.

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