Open Enrollment & the Alexander-Murray Bill

Open Enrollment for 2018 begins tomorrow, November 1st, and this year the enrollment period is shorter — lasting for only six weeks—from November 1st until December 15th.

The Affordable Care Act has been the target of countless efforts of repeal and replace, as well as direct sabotage from the Trump administration. However, going into the 2018 Open Enrollment, the ACA is still in place.

The Alexander-Murray bill is currently the only plausible bipartisan market stabilization package to strengthen the ACA in Congress. The Congressional Budget Office found that Alexander-Murray would benefit both consumers and federal taxpayers by reducing individual market premiums beginning in 2019 and reduce deficits by $3.8 billion over ten years – while maintaining coverage rates.

The legislation would:

  • Guarantee cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurers through 2019;
  • Restore a significant portion of the Trump Administration’s cuts to ACA marketplace outreach and enrollment assistance;
  • Expand eligibility for so-called “catastrophic plans,” which are high-deductible plans that are subject to ACA rules and consumer protections but are currently available only to people under age 30; and
  • Simplify and alter some aspects of the ACA’s “Section 1332” waivers, which allow states to modify certain provisions of the ACA as long as the waivers cover as many people, provide coverage at least as affordable, provide coverage at least as comprehensive, and do not increase the federal deficit.

By guaranteeing payment of CSRs, the agreement would lower individual market premiums, prevent insurer exits, and save the federal government money – next year, and even more so in 2019.

By restoring funding for outreach, the agreement will help hundreds of thousands of people get coverage they need and help keep premiums low for all consumers, since outreach is especially important to encouraging healthy people to buy insurance.

While the Alexander-Murray proposal is not perfect, it is a step in the right direction. Most importantly, it signifies progress toward bipartisan action on health care, and away from damaging efforts to repeal the ACA, radically overhaul Medicaid, and take away coverage from millions of people.

We need swift, bipartisan Congressional action on this front in the passage of Alexander-Murray. The sooner this agreement is enacted into law, the more it will do to help consumers and strengthen markets in 2018.

During this enrollment period, call Senator Daines and Senator Tester, and ask them to reject calls from the White House, from Senator Hatch and Congressman Brady, and others to undermine the Alexander-Murray bill. We cannot risk the coverage of millions of Americans and destabilize the individual market with continued partisan health care games.

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