Blue Cross Blue Shield of WNY

Budget extender bill passed; includes HIT deferral

Monday evening the President signed a bill passed by both houses of Congress earlier in the day, reopening the federal government and extending spending authority until February 8. The bill includes a provision deferring the Affordable Care Act's health insurance tax (HIT) for 2019. While the tax remains in effect for 2018, insurers will not include it in their 2019 premium rates. The bill also included:


-- a six year reauthorization of funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP);
-- delay of the ACA medical device tax for another two years (2018 and 2019); and
-- delay of the ACA "Cadillac tax" on high value health plans until 2022.


Passage of the short-term "continuing resolution" came after Democrats received assurances from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that he would bring immigration legislation to the Senate floor for consideration, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, immediately after February 8 if there is not agreement on a broader package that includes immigration by then.


Budget negotiations continue


In addition to DACA, Congressional leaders will continue negotiations over budget spending caps, health extenders, market stabilization, disaster relief and other priorities as well as a longer-term spending bill to fund the government for the remainder of FY 2018. Even if an agreement is reached on budget caps and other priorities, another continuing resolution may be necessary on February 8 to allow appropriators time to write a longer term spending bill.


While Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and others in Congress will continue to push for including an individual insurance market stabilization package in the February 8 bill, it may be more likely to get addressed in the longer term spending bill. Estimates indicate that market stabilization – including funding cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) and establishing a $15 billion per year reinsurance program – could reduce premiums in the individual market by about 20 percent in 2019.


News and Media

August 3, 2017:
Senators Plan Bipartisan Hearings On Health Care

Dave Anderson, CEO of HealthNow New York, talks with Steve Inskeep about lawmakers' plans to hold bipartisan hearings on health insurance exchanges. NPR's Scott Horsley has details and analysis.


June 6, 2017:
What's next for the American Health Care Act

The Point of Health podcast features Donald Ingalls, Vice President, State and Federal Relations of BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York. The episode covers the latest updates on Republican's efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.


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