Thanks to Cornerstone and the Ohio Association of Health Underwriters, I was fortunate enough to spend several days witnessing the chaos in our capital first hand. Though I won’t pretend to have answers about what may come next from Washington, I’m excited to share an update from my recent experience attending the National Association of Health Underwriter’s (NAHU) Capitol Conference.
NAHU and its local chapters across the country actively work to ensure that agent and broker interests have a voice in the discussion about the future of health care reform (a breakdown of NAHU legislative issues can be viewed on the NAHU website). While Congress continues the debate over repealing and replacing, NAHU has focused on the stabilization of the individual and small group markets. Regardless of the future of health care reform, everyone, including politicians, carriers, brokers, and consumers benefit from stability in a turbulent marketplace.
Nearly every speaker at the conference began by acknowledging the rapidly changing landscape of health care reform. Though some expect drastic action to come quickly, politicians on both sides of the aisle acknowledged that any change would likely take time.
So what might this “action” look like?
While I will not try to predict the outlook of the post-ACA health insurance market, it’s relatively clear that Republicans will use at least three different prongs to effect change:
1. Administrative Action
2. Budget Reconciliation
Each prong provides means for changing the existing ACA structure, but also requires greater partisan and bi-partisan support.
As many brokers are aware, significant pieces of the ACA were implemented through administrative action, which can also be modified by administrative action. For example, on Friday, February 10, Tom Price was confirmed as the secretary of The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and then February 15, HHS took administrative action and issued proposed regulations addressing market stabilization.
While administrative action can begin quickly through the executive branch, budget reconciliation bills will require the support of 51 senators, while legislative bills will likely require the support of 60 senators.
A number of proposals, including House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “A Better Way” and Price’s “Empowering Patients First Act,” have been discussed in Congress and the in the media. However, most congressional representatives expect a comprehensive plan to be outlined in the coming weeks, which may clarify where the market is headed next. In the meantime, many brokers will continue to do what they have always done: Let politicians worry about Washington, and focus on taking care of their clients.
Cornerstone is committed to being a trusted resource in an ever-changing market, and our experts will keep you updated as we approach complex legislative modifications ahead.
For more information, contact Cornerstone today.