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Donnelly to Administration on Health Care: Do No Harm, Commit to Providing Market Stability

July 31, 2017
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donnelly_senatorGranger, Ind. – U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly is urging the Administration to make a public commitment to continue cost sharing reduction payments (CSR), which lower consumers’ deductibles and co-pays. On Monday Donnelly continued his push for stability in the insurance markets in a letter to Seema Verma—Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)—who he partnered with to establish Indiana’s bipartisan HIP 2.0 program through the health care law. Donnelly’s letter comes as the Administration has refused to commit to continue making CSR payments, which could cause people to pay at least 15-20 percent more for health care. Read Donnelly’s letter to Verma below or here.

Donnelly wrote in the letter, “…It is our job to protect American families from unnecessary increases in the cost of health care, particularly those within our control. That is why I am very concerned by recent comments and actions made by the Administration demonstrating a willingness and desire to undermine the health care system, even at the expense of the health and economic security of millions of Americans. These efforts to create uncertainty are harming working people and are already having a detrimental effect in Indiana.

“As we work to improve our health care system, we must first do no harm…The Administration has the ability to help provide market stability today, and I respectfully request that the Administration make a strong public commitment to continuing the CSR payments so that Congress can work together in a bipartisan fashion in an effort to reduce costs, expand access, and strengthen the American health care system.”

Donnelly recently heard from several insurance companies that provide coverage to Hoosiers including two that have recently left the market—that cited lack of certainty, particularly as it relates to the Administration’s refusal to commit to making CSR payments, as a key reason for increasing prices or leaving the market. An insurance provider in Indiana that is actively considering offering plans in counties that currently lack an insurer has indicated that the certainty of CSR payments and a reinsurance program would “seal the deal.”

While Donnelly is among the first to acknowledge that Congress must act to improve our health care system and work in a bipartisan manner to encourage market stability and ensure greater affordability, he has expressed repeated concerns about the Administration’s repeated efforts to undermine our health care system. To read more, click here.

Full text of Donnelly’s letter to Verma is below or here.

 

Dear Administrator Verma,

Last January, before your confirmation hearing, we discussed my strong belief that any successful health care reform must be bipartisan, and we expressed a commitment to work together to strengthen the American health care system to improve access to care and reduce health care costs.

After several months of frustrating, partisan efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it now appears Congress is prepared to turn the page and begin a bipartisan process to address those areas of the ACA that need to be improved. Hoosier common sense tells us that it is our job to protect American families from unnecessary increases in the cost of health care, particularly those within our control. That is why I am very concerned by recent comments and actions made by the Administration demonstrating a willingness and desire to undermine the health care system, even at the expense of the health and economic security of millions of Americans. These efforts to create uncertainty are harming working people and are already having a detrimental effect in Indiana.

As you know, both public and private analyses from earlier this year have shown that the individual market was stabilizing and becoming more profitable.[1][2] First quarter data for 2017 also revealed improving numbers and no sign of a collapsing market.[3] These conditions would normally attract more insurers to sell insurance and request modest premium increases, but uncertainty has instead led to projected insurer exits and preventable premium increases for next year.

In fact, I recently heard from a number of insurance companies that provide coverage to Hoosiers—including two that have recently left the market—that cited lack of certainty, particularly as it relates to the Administration’s refusal to commit to making cost sharing reduction (CSR) payments, as a key reason for increasing prices or leaving the market. We also have an insurance provider in our home state that is actively considering offering plans in counties that currently lack an insurer. The company has indicated that the certainty of CSR payments and a reinsurance program would “seal the deal.”[4]

As we work to improve our health care system, we must first do no harm. The lack of certainty is increasing prices, decreasing choices, and directly harming American families seeking to purchase affordable health care for next year. The Administration has the ability to help provide market stability today, and I respectfully request that the Administration make a strong public commitment to continuing the CSR payments so that Congress can work together in a bipartisan fashion in an effort to reduce costs, expand access, and strengthen the American health care system.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly

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