Print Friendly and PDFPrinter Friendly Version

Blog
Friday, October 27, 2017

CBO Gives Congress One More Reason to Support Alexander-Murray Bill

A bipartisan bill that seeks to stabilize health insurance markets got some welcome news from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) this week. 

Sponsored by Senators Alexander (R-TN), Murray (D-WA), and 22 other senators evenly divided between parties, the legislation would guarantee promised federal payments to insurers of cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) furnished to low-wage, working families. It would also fund outreach and enrollment efforts while making other changes to current law. On October 25, CBO found that such changes would save the federal government $3.8 billion over 10 years. 

Alexander-Murray bill reverses Trump Administration sabotage efforts

The Alexander-Murray bill would reverse two of the Trump Administration’s decisions to sabotage health insurance markets. Those decisions slashed funding for enrollment assistance and ended federal CSR payments. Announced just weeks before the start of open enrollment, the latter step ignored CBO’s August warning that stopping CSR payments would raise individual market premiums by 20 percent and increase federal deficits by $194 billion over 10 years. 

In August, CBO also found that ending these payments would cause immediate, short-term market disruption, with 5 percent of the U.S. population losing all access to individual insurance and 1 million people becoming uninsured. 

This week’s CBO report does not analyze the impact of retaining rather than eliminating CSR payments. Unlike the Trump Administration, CBO reads the ACA as requiring the payment of CSRs. CBO’s $3.8 billion savings estimate involves other parts of the Alexander-Murray bill.

Alexander-Murray deserves support

By putting forward this market stabilization bill, some of our elected leaders are moving away from radical measures that would take health insurance away from tens of millions of people on a straight party-line vote. 

Instead, senators are coming together across party lines to find practical solutions that improve the lives of their constituents. Both because of the stabilization it would lend to insurance markets and because of the new direction it takes on health care issues so important to American families, the Alexander-Murray bill deserves support.