Maryland Responds to the Suspension of Cost Reduction Subsidy (CSR) Payments

On October 12, President Trump announced that he would be ending the Cost Sharing Subsidy (CSR) payments to insurers, designed to protect carriers from large financial losses incurred in ACA Exchanges. Attorney General Brian Frosh joined a lawsuit filed by 18 State Attorney Generals to halt the withdrawal. Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer allowed carriers to file new rates for the individual market for the 2018 plan year, held a public rate hearing on Monday, and announced new premiums for on-Exchange silver plans yesterday. 

Consumer Health First sent a letter to Commissioner Redmer, requesting that any new rates be added ONLY to the on-Exchange Silver plans and we are pleased the MIA agreed with us. While we lament any premium increases, Commissioner Redmer’s actions provide the greatest protection for Maryland consumers.

  • By increasing the cost of the on-Exchange Silver plans, eligible Maryland consumers will receive a higher dollar amount for the premium tax credit. Some consumers may now be able to buy an on-Exchange Bronze plan at no cost or an on-Exchange Gold plan at a nominally higher cost than an on-Exchange Silver plan.
  • Maryland consumers who do not qualify for a premium tax credit should consider purchasing Silver plans OFF the Exchange as the price will be significantly higher on the Exchange.
  • This year, in particular, Maryland consumers should seek professional assistance from an insurance broker or navigator when considering plan options in the individual market. 

National Response to the Suspension of CSR Payments

The lawsuit filed by the 18 State Attorney Generals requested an immediate injunction to require the Federal government to continue CSR payments. A federal judge in California denied the request for an injunction citing the fact that most states, including Maryland, were already making plans to adjust to the lack of CSRs, and did not want insurance carriers to end up "double dipping" if rates were increased and then subsidies were reinstated and noting that a relatively small number of people on most Exchanges would be affected.

Meanwhile, the bi-partisan Murray-Alexander bill received good scores from a CBO analysis of the bill. Nearly $4 billion in tax deficit reductions, no one loses coverage, and no cuts to Medicaid or Medicare services. But, the future of the Murray-Alexander bill hangs in the balance pending a signal from President Trump that he will sign the legislation if the Senate passes the bill.

Other Important Federal Developments

CHIP is still not funded, the rate of uninsured Americans rose for the first time since the ACA was put into place indicating that 3.5 million Americans lost their insurance coverage, and Health and Human Services new Strategic Plan includes a definition that life begins at conception.  Public comments for the plan are being accepted until tomorrow, October 27.

And that was just this week...