HomeWashington Letter2017 ▶ Sens. Alexander and Murray Introduce Bill to Stabilize Health Insurance Markets
Sens. Alexander and Murray Introduce Bill to Stabilize Health Insurance Markets

This week, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), chair and ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, respectively, introduced legislation to stabilize the individual insurance market. The senators reinstated Affordable Care Act (ACA) cost-sharing reductions (CSR)'s for health insurers that President Donald Trump cut off last week. The bill also provides some flexibility for states in health plan availability while preserving patient protections, including the maintenance of the full ACA essential health benefits package.

The Alexander-Murray bill would:

  • Restore the ACA CSR payments to insurers for two years
  • Modify ACA rules to allow states to allow the sale of additional insurance plans with "comparable affordability" on state ACA insurance exchanges.
  • Add language protecting individuals with low-incomes, serious health needs and other vulnerable populations
  • Maintain the ACA's essential health benefits and other patient protections, including for patients with pre-existing conditions
  • Permit the availability of catastrophic-only coverage plans to people over age 30
  • Streamline and accelerate the ACA state waiver process.

If insurer CSR's are not restored within the next few months, there will be a significant negative impact on the individual insurance market, including a potential loss of health coverage for one million low-income Americans currently on the health exchanges, and a sharp increase in health care costs for most consumers in 2018.

Although President Trump expressed initial support for the proposal, he has since backed away from it. Although it is not clear if there is enough Republican support in the Senate and House to pass the bill as a stand-alone legislation, the bill could be passed as part of a larger vehicle, including the fiscal year 2018 spending omnibus that must be passed by Dec. 8, 2017 to keep the federal government running.

Health association and patient organizations are mobilizing around the Alexander-Murray bill as a reasonable short-term fix to prevent health coverage losses and a sharp increase in health costs. The ATS sent a letter to the Senate and House leadership supporting action on the Alexander-Murray bill.


Contact Your Senators and House Representative to urge them to support the Alexander-Murray health bill!

Last Reviewed: October 2017