Wolf Administration Testifies before U.S. Senate Committee on Bipartisan Fixes to Strengthen Affordable Care Act

September 06, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Governor Wolf’s Acting Secretary of Human Services and former Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller testified today before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on the immediate need for stability in the individual market and targeted fixes that would strengthen the Affordable Care Act and improve affordability and competition for consumers in individual market plans. She joined insurance commissioners from around the country to discuss opportunities for bipartisan cooperation.

Acting Secretary Miller praised the committee, which is led by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), for taking a measured, bipartisan approach to stabilizing the individual market.

“Both Teresa Miller and I applaud the committee’s efforts to work towards a solution on this important issue,” Governor Wolf said. ”We need to build upon the foundation of the health care system we have and make targeted, common sense changes that will improve the Affordable Care Act and make it work better for the people it is not working perfectly for today.”

“The concerns of Congress are legitimate and must be addressed, but starting over or moving backwards will not better serve Pennsylvanians or Americans throughout the nation,” Acting Secretary Miller said.

Governor Wolf has been an active participant in a group of bipartisan governors working to ensure that Congress’s approach to health care reform is completed in a bipartisan manner that will strengthen the individual market while protecting coverage improvements made by the Affordable Care Act. The governors are urging Congress to take steps to stabilize the market and address affordability issues in the interim.

Acting Secretary Miller shared opportunities for improvements that could help address stability and affordability, including:

  • Allocating funds to ensure that payments for cost-sharing reductions continue for at least all of 2018;
  • Streamlining the process for obtaining Section 1332 State Innovation waivers without jeopardizing baseline coverage improvements made by the Affordable Care Act;
  • Preserving the individual mandate;
  • Making outstanding payments owed under risk stabilization programs and creating a new long-term reinsurance program to moderate the premium increases that have occurred due to market instability;
  • Reversing cuts made by the Trump Administration and continuing robust and active outreach programs to encourage enrollment;
  • Working to understand and address the underlying costs of health care that are growing at an unsustainable rate and have a significant impact on premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

“While the health reform debate has without question been partisan, the goals we are trying to achieve are not, and recognizing the real problems that exist in our health care system should not be either,” Miller said. “We all want Americans to have access to the care they need and be able to afford that care. We also want them to have choices, and that means supporting a competitive health insurance marketplace that can provide that choice.

“Let’s start by recognizing where consumers may not have that access or affordability, and let’s understand where we are not supporting the competitive market we need,” she said. “Then, taking a lead from Governor Wolf and the group of bipartisan governors, let’s look for solutions that can solve those problems, both in the short-term and in the long-term.”

Acting Secretary Miller’s full testimony is available at http://www.insurance.pa.gov/Pages/Testimony_Speeches.aspx.

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