CMS ap­proves Alaska waiver meant to sta­bi­lize mar­ket

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Vir­gil Dick­son

The CMS ap­proved a first-of-its-kind waiver al­low­ing Alaska to use fed­eral money to cre­ate a high-risk fund. It will al­low the state to con­tinue try­ing to en­tice cash-strapped in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to stay on the state’s in­di­vid­ual mar­ket and not raise premi­ums.

Un­der Alaska’s re­cently ap­proved 1332 waiver, the state could use what would have been fed­eral premium tax cred­its and cost-shar­ing re­duc­tions to fund a rein­sur­ance pro­gram.

The ap­proval will tem­po­rar­ily sta­bi­lize Alaska’s in­di­vid­ual in­sur­ance mar­ket, ac­cord­ing to CMS Ad­min­is­tra­tor Seema Verma.

Alaska asked for the fund­ing af­ter in­sur­ers pro­jected premium hikes of 42% this year. Early this year, states were given the green light to re­quest waivers for vir­tu­ally ev­ery cov­er­age com­po­nent of the Af­ford­able Care Act as long as the state’s health­care cov­er­age is con­sis­tent with ACA’s terms and doesn’t in­crease the fed­eral deficit.

The Alaska Rein­sur­ance Pro­gram pays claims for in­di­vid­u­als with high­cost con­di­tions, re­mov­ing those claims from the in­sur­ance risk pool, thus keep­ing premi­ums down. State funds were ap­pro­pri­ated to fund the pro­gram only for 2017.

The CMS be­lieves the waiver will al­low more Alaska res­i­dents to keep their cov­er­age and see lower premi­ums. The five-year waiver starts Jan. 1.

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