Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander on Wednesday launched a series of hearings on helping 18 million Americans be able to access and afford health insurance in 2018.
Senator Alexander said at Wednesday’s hearing, “This step is not so small to 18 million Americans—songwriters, the self-employed, farmers—those who do not get their health insurance from the government or on the job.
These 18 million buy their health insurance in the individual market, and about half of them have zero government support to help buy that insurance. About half of these are lower income Americans that have government subsidies to help pay for their insurance and the other half are those who get no government support to help pay for insurance. These Americans are the ones hurt the most by the skyrocketing premiums, co-pays and deductibles.
“If Congress acts quickly we can limit increases in premiums in 2018; continue support for co-pays and deductibles for many low-income families; make certain that health insurance is available in every market; and lay the groundwork for future premium decreases.
“To get a result, Democrats will have to agree to something – more flexibility for states – that some are reluctant to support. And Republicans will have to agree to something – additional funding through the Affordable Care Act – that some are reluctant to support. Health insurance has been a very partisan topic for a very long time, but the bottom line today is that 18 million Americans need our help, and I hope we can stay focused on getting a result.”
Tennessee state insurance commissioner Julie Mix McPeak – who testified Wednesday at a Senate health committee hearing Senator Alexander chaired – said in August of last year that the Tennessee Obamacare exchange was “very near collapse.”
In addition to Wenesday's hearing with state insurance commissioners, the committee will meet on Thursday to hear from governors, Tuesday, to hear from health policy experts on state flexibility, and Sept. 14 to hear from a state insurance commissioner, doctors, and patient advocates.
Alexander’s full remarks are available here.