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.


Washington Brief: Gorsuch Stresses Independence From Trump; Schumer Calls for Delaying Confirmation Vote

On his second day of confirmation hearings, Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch stressed his independence from President Donald Trump. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Gorsuch’s confirmation vote should be delayed because of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe of alleged ties between the Russian government and Trump’s presidential campaign.

Health Brief: GOP Announces Changes to Health Care Bill

House GOP leaders made tweaks to their Obamacare replacement legislation aimed at bolstering Republican support, but many skeptical conservatives remain opposed to the plan. The changes include giving states more flexibility with their Medicaid programs, phasing out Obamacare taxes sooner and increasing tax credits to help older Americans afford health insurance.

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