Key Issues Discussed this year
- Stabilize the Individual Market – the individual market makes up a small percentage of overall Americans (~6%), but the effects of this market can have detrimental impacts on the Group Market (170 million people covered). We have a list of recommendations for the individual market that need to be addressed quickly to ensure the insurance carriers do not all leave the individual market, which would leave minimal/no competition, thus driving up premiums even further while continuing to reduce coverage.
- Preserve the Employer Exclusion – As Congress tries to find money to support proposed legislations such as tax reform, one of the proposals is to cap or eliminate the tax deductions associated with employer-sponsored benefits. THIS WOULD BE DETRIMENTAL TO THE STABILITY OF THE GROUP MARKET (~170 million people covered) and would negatively affect middle-class Americans who currently benefit from this provision. The infographics below provide more information on the impacts of this proposed change.
Meeting with the House Ways & Means Committee
- Medicare Advantage & Prescription Drug Plan Open Enrollment Period (OEP) – Last year, we worked closely with the Ways & Means committee to drive changes to reinstate the Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Open Enrollment Period. (OEP). This OEP will be reinstated in January of 2019 and it will allow individuals on Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans to make one change to their plans between January 1 and March 31. This OEP will protect individuals who make the wrong decision during the Annual Enrollment Period (Oct 15 – Dec 7) and may not realize it until they start using the coverage the following year. This was a BIG WIN that helps protect Medicare beneficiaries. We are working with the Ways & Means Committee to try to bring in the start date for the OEP to January of 2018, but as of right now it is still set for January of 2019.
- Making Cobra Credible Coverage – Medicare-eligible individuals who sign up for Cobra don’t generally understand that Cobra is not considered credible coverage. This has significant impacts on Part B effective dates and Penalties when the Cobra coverage runs out. We worked closely with two Congressman last year to get bi-partisan support of a bill that will improve the treatment of the “Cobra trap” . Unfortunately, before this bill could pass one of the Congressman lost his seat. We discussed alternative Sponsors with the Ways & Means Committee and should have a new Congressman lined up to assist with this bill in the next few weeks.
- Keeping Medicare out of ACA Reform - There are some members of Congress who are attempting to bundle changes that would significantly reform Medicare with changes to the Affordable Care Act. We are opposed to most of the changes being suggested to Medicare, especially in the near term since Stability of the Individual Market should be the top priority of Congress.