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Coffee CAHC policy round-up: October 25, 2017

Coffee CAHC is a twice-weekly newsletter where we round up and comment on the latest health coverage policy developments both nationally and here in Maine. We hope you find these updates helpful!

Have suggestions or feedback? Let me know (sbutterfield@mainecahc.org). If you like these emails, please share them with others, and ask them to sign up here.

 

Coffee CAHC

115th Congress, 1st session

128th Maine Legislature, adjourned

 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

 

I can honestly say that I do not ever remember thinking, this late in October, “gosh, I wish I still had the A/C in the window…”, but I sure was thinking it last night. Positively balmy around here!

Looks like this will be a pretty brief Coffee CAHC, as I haven’t seen a ton of new developments on the health policy front since Friday.

 

National level

Two interesting, small pieces of news on the federal front.

The first is that a more-conservative “alternative” to the robustly bipartisan Alexander-Murray stabilization bill has appeared in Congress. Sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), this bill would extend the cost sharing reduction reimbursements to insurers…and, uh, kill the individual mandate for 5 years. Needless to say, we aren’t fans. And given that none of the ACA replacement plans earlier this year could cobble together 51 votes, and this plan would require 60 (meaning at least 8-9 Democrats voting for it), I’ll go ahead and say I think this is unlikely to go anywhere.

The other is practically breaking news (in that it just landed in the past hour or so): a new CBO report on Alexander-Murray shows that it would actually save the federal government almost $4b over the next decade. Sounds like a no-brainer to us.

 

State level

The Legislature was back in session earlier this week. Sounds like it was a very long day for them, but there weren’t any issues that we were tracking on the agenda that day, so I’m afraid I don’t have much more for you about the session day than that!

Maine’s Superintendent of Insurance, Eric Cioppa, released a new advisory yesterday reminding consumers that, because of the unusual contours of the individual market next year in the absence of CSR reimbursements to insurance companies, it’s more important than ever that consumers comparison-shop to make sure they are getting the insurance plan that represents the best value for them. We certainly agree that shopping is critical, which is true every year. We’d only add how vital it is to remember that insurance costs include more than just premiums: keep an eye on those deductibles, co-insurances, and out of pocket costs, too. Even a $0-premium plan could end up costing more over a year than a plan with higher premiums, once you take out-of-pocket spending into account. When in doubt, call our HelpLine!

 

Would you like to know more?

Devotees, overachievers, and hardcore enthusiasts can read the entire CBO report on Alexander-Murray at this link. (actually, it’s only 8 pages)

 

Until next time, friends, I remain,

-Steve

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