Sununu asks Congress to act on health care

  • Chris Sununu in Concord, N.H., in September 2016. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) Jim Cole

Monitor staff
Published: 10/17/2017 12:07:51 AM

Four days after President Donald Trump ended Affordable Care Act insurance company subsidies, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu pressed Congress to authorize the payments themselves.

In a joint letter sent to Congressional leaders Tuesday, Sununu and New Hampshire Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny asked U.S. House and Senate leaders to restore the funding, known as cost-sharing reduction payments, or CSRs, which reimburse insurers for discounts they are legally required give certain low-income individuals. 

Trump ended the payments in an executive order Friday, arguing the funds need to be properly authorized by Congress before they can legally be spent by the executive branch.

In his letter to Congress on Monday, Sununu said it is now up to representatives to keep making the payments. A failure to reauthorize them by 2018 could result in 20 a percent premium increase nationally, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office in August.

Sununu and Sevigny also urged Congressional leaders to back legislation put forward by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida. The bill, The Lower Premiums Through Reinsurance Act, could help states like New Hampshire create reinsurance programs and invisible high-risk pools to help bring down premiums, they wrote.

The effects of losing CSR payments on New Hampshire are unclear; earlier this year the insurance department allowed carriers on the state exchange to raise 2018 premiums in anticipation of the payments ending.

In response, unsubsidized premiums on the individual market are already anticipated to rise an average of 52 percent, according to a recent analysis.

According to actuarial models, Sununu and Sevigny wrote, New Hampshire’s individual exchange could lose 10,000 members – 40 percent those who pay the full premium – by the end of 2018.

“Without Congressional action, our individual market for 2019 will be in peril, as healthier and younger members leave and prices increase further for the sicker and older members who remain, or our carriers pull out entirely,” the letter says.

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