N.H. gover­nor slams waiver aimed at sta­bi­liz­ing mar­ket

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Vir­gil Dick­son

Fac­ing the po­ten­tial for large pre­mium in­creases, New Hamp­shire will seek a waiver al­low­ing it to cre­ate a high-risk fund for in­di­vid­u­als on the mar­ket­place. The state’s Repub­li­can gover­nor im­me­di­ately pushed back on the pro­posal, and could pre­vent the plan from reach­ing fed­eral of­fi­cials.

State of­fi­cials last week pro­posed a Sec­tion 1332 waiver they say will save the fed­eral govern­ment $9 mil­lion in ad­vance pre­mium tax cred­its for next year, pro­mote mar­ket­place sta­bil­ity and re­duce the risk of dra­matic rate in­creases in the in­di­vid­ual mar­ket­place.

The pro­posed state-op­er­ated rein­sur­ance pro­gram would be funded both by a new tax on in­sur­ance compa- nies and lim­ited fed­eral fund­ing, which could pro­vide a col­lec­tive $45 mil­lion to cover the cost of high-cost claims.

The goal is to prompt com­pa­nies of­fer­ing plans on the in­di­vid­ual mar­ket to lower their rates.

But New Hamp­shire Gov. Chris Su­nunu said he fears any ad­di­tional costs will be passed along to con­sumers.

If state health of­fi­cials keep the in­surer tax in the fi­nal­ized waiver re­quest, Su­nunu could pre­vent the pro­posal from ever reach­ing the CMS for re­view, ac­cord­ing to Danielle Bar­rick, a spokes­woman for the New Hamp­shire In­sur­ance Depart­ment.

The CMS ap­proved the first-ever 1332 waiver out of Alaska this month. The state re­ceived per­mis­sion to use what would have been fed­eral pre­mium tax cred­its and cost-shar­ing re­duc­tions to fund a rein­sur­ance pro­gram. Un­der a 1332 waiver, states can ask the fed­eral govern­ment for per­mis­sion to change el­e­ments of the ACA that ap­ply to pri­vate health in­sur­ance cov­er­age. The op­tion only be­came avail­able Jan. 1 of this year.

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