Alexander Bill Would Extend Subsidies to Off-Exchange Plans

Sen. Lamar Alexander is introducing a bill Wednesday that would extend Affordable Care Act subsidies to plans off of the exchanges for some eligible consumers.

The Tennessee Republican is proposing that states could opt to expand the Obamacare subsidies to plans sold off of the exchanges. For states without enough competition on the exchanges, governors could choose to have the subsidies to plans offered off the exchanges so consumers have more choice, he said.

His bill comes as recent reports have shown that at least one-third of U.S. counties could have just one insurer offering plans on the exchanges next year and many state insurance commissioners, including Tennessee’s, have approved significant premium rate increases.

The bill would also waive the individual mandate for consumers in states where governors’ opted to extend the subsidies to plans outside of the exchanges.

Alexander, who chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, explained the bill in a floor speech Wednesday morning.

“Obamacare is unraveling at an alarming rate,” he said. “Most Americans on the exchanges will face higher rates.”

Republican lawmakers have introduced and discussed bills in recent weeks that would relax the health care law’s individual mandate.

Briefings

Washington Brief: Week in Review & What’s Ahead

Congress has until midnight on April 28 to pass a spending bill that would keep the government open. While many lawmakers are hoping the funding measure will extend through the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, there is also talk of passing a short-term extension in order to buy more time to negotiate a deal that extends through September.

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