Wolf Administration Insurance Commissioner Testifies Before U.S. House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on Immediate Need for Stability to Strengthen Affordable Care Act

July 25, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Governor Tom Wolf’s Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller testified today before the U.S. House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on the immediate need for stability from the federal government to strengthen the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and improve affordability and competition for consumers in individual market plans. Commissioner Miller joined health care industry experts to discuss plans that would actually improve the market as the U.S. Senate voted to open debate on a bill to end the ACA.

“Commissioner Miller is the exact person with the knowledge and experience to convey the importance of maintaining and stabilizing the Affordable Care Act to help all Americans – not only Pennsylvanians – continue to access affordable, comprehensive health insurance,” Governor Wolf said.

Commissioner Miller expressed serious concerns surrounding proposals put forth by both chambers of Congress, as well as the legislative process used to craft these bills.

“I believe we need to build upon the foundation of the health care system we have and make targeted, common sense changes that will improve the ACA and make it work better for the people it is not working perfectly for today,” said Commissioner Miller. “Starting over, or even moving backwards as I believe the proposals we’ve seen from the House and Senate will do, will not better serve Pennsylvanians or Americans throughout the nation.”

Millions of Pennsylvanians have benefited from the ACA’s ban on annual and lifetime limits and expanded access to free preventive care services, and the 5.4 million Pennsylvanians with pre-existing conditions – half of Pennsylvanians under age 65 – can no longer be denied coverage or charged higher premiums due to their medical history. Additionally, more than 175,000 Pennsylvanians have been able to access substance use disorder treatment services through their exchange and Medicaid expansion coverage, which is critical to helping individuals impacted by the opioid crisis.

In April, Commissioner Miller co-signed, with executives representing each of the five health insurers selling on Pennsylvania’s exchange, a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price that echoed the need for stability and predictability to continue the progress the market has made by funding payments to insurers for cost-sharing reductions. She reiterated this urgent need to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma in a response to her request for information regarding market stabilization.

“Yet here we are, roughly a month out from when states need to send final rates for 2018 to HHS, and the Trump Administration still refuses to make anything longer than a month-to-month commitment on these payments. I cannot stress enough how difficult this uncertainty is on our insurers,” said Commissioner Miller. “These payments have a significant impact on insurer’s rates, and failing to make a long-term commitment will do nothing but drive up prices for consumers in the market. This will especially hurt the 1 to 2 percent who do not receive subsidies – if their company stays in the market at all – as those who do receive subsidies would be shielded from most of the increases. The closer we get to rates being due, the more critical this need for certainty becomes.”

Commissioner Miller also highlighted stricter enforcement of the individual mandate, funding a reinsurance program, and moderating the growth of health care costs long-term as methods to mitigate premium increases moving forward.

“In the long-term, it is imperative that we begin to look for ways to moderate the growth of health care costs to ensure our health care system is sustainable and will meet the needs of those that need it now as well as those that will need to rely on it in the future,” said Commissioner Miller. “I am hopeful that we can move away from drastic proposals that would jeopardize the health and financial security of millions of Americans, and focus on solving real problems with common sense solutions like these.”

A video of the hearing is available www.facebook.com/HouseDemocrats/.

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