Reaction from Healthcare Monitor Firms on Trump Administration’s Defunded Cost-Sharing Subsidies
Four Healthcare Monitor coverage group firms issued public site statements following the recent executive order to eliminate health insurance cost-sharing reduction subsidies on October 12, 2017. The subsidies, which this year cost the federal government $7 billion, help lower copays and deductibles for people with modest incomes. Many experts speculate that this would prompt a rise in premiums, on top of increases insurers already planned for next year.
Horizon BCBS issued two statements promoting the firm’s efforts to provide its members with the resources to stay informed on policy changes as well as their need to receive coverage. In response to reduced federal funding to promote the open enrollment period, scheduled HealthCare.gov shutdowns during open enrollment and a shortened period by half compared to last year, Horizon BCBS described its plan to ramp up marketing and advertising campaigns through member mailings, paid searches, banner ads and social media posts as well as billboards and signage throughout New Jersey, including on trains and buses, to remind consumers about the open enrollment period and how the firm can help guide them. Responding to federal funding cutbacks for navigators who help people pick plans, Horizon is also increasing its enrollment efforts and educational services during the open enrollment period by offering trained and licensed telephone agents, Blue to You mobile vans at 15 locations throughout New Jersey and town-hall-style educational events. In a second statement the firm forwarded its stance on the federal government’s actions, specifically mentioning increasing rates and uncertainty due to defunded cost-sharing subsidies.
Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare shared a brief statement from President and CEO Eric H. Shultz taking a hard stance against the decision to end subsidies for low-income individuals. Shultz believes that it “will make coverage unaffordable for many individuals” and “will also further disrupt the health insurance market, leading to uncertainty and increasing costs, while keeping health coverage from those who need it most.”
Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard J. Tyson issued a statement addressing the negative effect the executive order has on healthcare laws’ and regulations’ ability to increase access to high-quality, affordable care for as many people as possible. Shortly afterward, Tyson followed up with another statement expressing a similar concern for a destabilized health insurance market, this time specifically referencing the defunding of cost-sharing reduction subsidies.
A Tufts Health Plan public site statement provides assurance that the firm will keep offering affordable, high-quality healthcare plans to individuals receiving subsidies.
Except for Tufts, all firms provide a consistent and clear message that the executive order to defund cost-sharing reduction subsidies will increase costs for individuals and compound the uncertainty in the health insurance markets. Not every firm in the Healthcare Monitor coverage group has issued statements on this topic, however, but we highly recommend they do to keep members abreast of such issues. Health plans have expressed optimism, urgency and hopes for policymakers to take action to contain costs, promote stability and encourage more people to obtain health insurance. And, as we’ve seen, the senate has already weighed in on the issue with bills that may repeal the executive order and help stabilize the market.