Summary of Senate bipartisan health care agreement

Summary of Tuesday’s bipartisan health care agreement between two leading senators:

—Continues federal payments for two years to insurers for reducing out-of-pocket costs like co-payments and deductibles for lower-income consumers. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the government will spend around $20 billion on the so-called cost-sharing reductions over the next two years. Trump blocked the payments last week.

—Provides $106 million in grants to states to pay for outreach and enrollment programs for encouraging people to sign up for health care coverage. Trump cut spending for the programs. The money comes from already collected taxes.

—Lets states get federal waivers from some requirements under President Barack Obama’s health care law if their proposed new programs are of “comparable affordability” for consumers to existing programs. That gives states more flexibility than the existing requirement that replacement must be “at least as affordable” as current one. Language protects low-income populations, vulnerable populations and people with serious health conditions.

—Increases flexibility by requiring states’ proposed changes to not increase federal deficit over the multi-year life of waivers, not each individual year.

—Shortens from 180 days to 90 days the time the federal government has to review state waiver applications. Speeds reviews for states seeking same changes as other states and for emergencies. Lets governors approve a state’s waiver without requiring legislature’s consent.

—States could not get waivers from covering services required by Obama’s law, or from the statute’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

—Lets people of any age buy some low-premium, high-deductible catastrophic plans. Obama’s statute limits those policies to people under 30 and those who are older who qualify due to economic hardship.


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