Writing in Red Alert Politics, Millennial Policy Center President Jimmy Sengenberger explains why the so-called “opt-out” in the healthcare compromise is a cop-out:
“At long last, the conservative Freedom Caucus has reached a consensus on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known as Obamacare. The agreement reached with members of the moderate Tuesday Group, called the MacArthur Amendment to the American Health Care Act (AHCA), would allow states to obtain exemption waivers from a number of burdensome Obamacare regulations.
The irony? The proposal is noticeably weaker than the original AHCA legislation.
The MacArthur Amendment offers three key waivers – what the media has termed “opt-outs” – for individual states. The first relaxes Obamacare’s “community rating” provision, which currently mandates a 3-to-1 price ratio based on age, allowing states to restore the average ratio of 5-to-1 if they choose. This would start in 2020.
The second exempts them from Obamacare’s mandated “essential health benefits” for the small-group and individual insurance markets beginning in 2018, allowing states to establish their own EHBs once again. This one begins in 2018.
The third waiver allows insurers to once more consider the health status of previously uninsured applicants in pricing plan offerings for these individuals, starting in 2019.
As with everything else, there’s a catch to these waivers. State applicants must meet a complex set of requirements by demonstrating how their respective plans will lower premiums, increase insurance enrollment, stabilize the market for insurance coverage, and achieve other goals. The waivers would be automatically approved by the Department of Health and Human Services – unless their application is rejected within 60 days for failure to meet the standards.
“[The bill’s] ‘opt-out’ provisions are nothing more than a political cop-out that deeply risk keeping in place some of the prime cost drivers in the system.”MPC President Jimmy Sengenberger