State Politicians in No Hurry to Fix Health Insurance


October 5, 2017 — We don’t need no stinkin’ special session on Medicaid expansion. That’s pretty much the Republican response to House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh’s call for Gov. Bill Haslam to bring lawmakers back to Nashville after the Graham-Cassidy bill failed in Congress.

The moderate Haslam likes a bipartisan approach taken by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, one ensuring Congress would fund “cost-sharing reduction” provisions as spelled out by the Affordable Care Act in which federal funds go to insurers to cut out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles and co-insurance for low-income enrollees.

The House of Representatives sued the Obama administration, contending the payments are illegal without congressional approval. The litigation is pending, and uncertainty about whether the Trump administration will continue to make those payments caused BlueCross BlueShield and Cigna to raise their premiums a total of 21 percent and 37 percent statewide for marketplace coverage, according to the Sycamore Institute.

About two-thirds of those increases are attributed to uncertainty about the federal cost-share reduction payments, the institute reports.

As a result, premiums are set to go up nearly 100 percent in the Memphis and Knoxville regions but only 9 percent in Greater Nashville and 50 percent statewide, the institute states.

Monthly premiums for a 55-year-old non-smoker in the Greater Knoxville and Greater Memphis areas would jump to more than $1,430 from $725, according to the Sycamore Institute’s analysis of federal filings.

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