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Senator Collins: Congress Must Take Action Now to Significantly Reduce the Cost of Health Insurance for Millions of Americans

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Note to assignment editors and news directors: Click HERE for a high-resolution video of Senator Collins delivering remarks at the press conference


Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins spoke at a press conference today on the need to take action to significantly reduce the cost of health insurance for millions of Americans.  She was joined by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Representatives Greg Walden (R-OR) and Ryan Costello (R-PA). 

“Congress faces a fundamental question: Do we want to take action to significantly reduce the cost of health insurance for millions of Americans, or are we going to miss this opportunity?” said Senator Collins.  “If Congress fails to act, insurance rates in the individual market will skyrocket.  Inaction will directly harm the nine million Americans who pay for their own insurance without government or employee-employer assistance, such as a fisherman in Maine who is now paying $10,000 for his insurance premium. It will hurt low-income Americans who would receive help to pay for their deductibles and co-pays.”

“Every study has shown our bills will make health insurance more affordable,” Senator Collins continued.  “It would be incredibly disappointing if Democrats and Republicans alike derailed this serious effort to reduce the cost of health care for millions of people simply because of political posturing.  Including these bills in the omnibus is the right thing to do, and it is urgent that we do it.”

Health care experts at management consulting firm Oliver Wyman released an analysis last week comparing this proposal to what people in the individual market will pay if Congress doesn’t act. The analysis showed that this package would reduce premiums by up to 40 percent in the individual market for states that obtain a Section 1332 Affordable Care Act waiver and would provide insurance coverage to an additional 3.2 million individuals. The analysis also factored in increased flexibility for states that seek to use state innovation waivers and applies in the individual health insurance market on and off the exchange.


Background on the proposal:

  • Meaningful permanent flexibility for states in revised Section 1332 Affordable Care Act State Innovation Waivers.
  • 3 years funding of invisible high risk pools/reinsurance at $10 billion per year, with a federal fallback in the first year. States could set up an invisible high-risk pool based on the Alaska/Maine model, a traditional reinsurance pool, a pool based on another state’s model, or something of their own design.
  • Authorizes new copper plans that will allow anyone to buy catastrophic coverage.
  • 3 years funding of cost-sharing reduction subsidies. Helps those who are below 250% of the poverty level who receive government assistance to help them pay for their deductibles and co-pays.
  • Includes protections so that federal funding directly benefits Americans, not insurance companies.
  • Requires the HHS secretary to issue regulations allowing insurers to sell plans across state lines.
  • Does not change Affordable Care Act essential benefits requirements or guarantee of insurance for an individual with pre-existing conditions.
  • Includes the traditional Hyde protections that have applied to appropriations bills since 1976 and that apply to Medicaid, Medicare, Children’s Health Insurance Program, TRICARE, Indian Health Service, Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, Veterans Affairs, and the Labor-HHS appropriations bill. Clarifies that Hyde-exemptions and effect on non-federal funding remain the same.
  • Requires transparency for consumers purchasing short-term limited duration insurance.

Click here for the text of the proposed legislation.