Individual Mandate

As I noted earlier, the price Maine GOP Senator Susan Collins appears to be demanding is passage of the Alexander-Murray stabilization bill and passage of her own Collins-Nelson reinsurance bill. I addressed Alexander-Murray in my last post, but let's take a look at Collins-Nelson:

Collins' bill with Nelson would set aside $4.5 billion over two years to help states establish reinsurance programs. Reinsurance directly compensates insurance carriers for their most expensive customers.

To the best of my knowledge, that's...pretty much all it does: $2.25 billion per year for two years, and then...that's it. If there's more to the bill than that, I'll revise this post, but in the meantime, that seems to be the whole bill.


(h/t to nmbrmnstr via Twitter for the heads up)

As part of their Godawful "tax reform" bill, Congressional Republicans have decided to toss repealing of the ACA's individual mandate penalty into the mix, partly because they've always hated it but mainly because doing so would allegedly save the federal government $338 billion over the next decade...which in theory would be enough to keep the total increase in the federal deficit bythe tax bill below the $1.5 TRILLION mark (yes, you read that correctly: $1.5 TRILLION, with a "T").

It's my understanding that if they can't keep it below that threshold, the bill won't go through for some obscure Senate rule reason or another (although apparently White House budget director Mick Mulvaney also stated that they really don't give a crap whether the mandate is repealed or not as long as the larger bill gets passed, so perhaps I'm mistaken about this? Need clarification on this point...)

Before I get into the meat of the headline, I just wanted to point something out (bear with me, there's a reason for this):

Exhibit A:

  • October, 2013: Several million people receive cancellation notices from their health insurance companies, stating that their current policies will be discontinued effective 12/31/13 because they don't meet the Affordable Care Act's minimum coverage requirements. Much outrage and gnashing of teeth follows because President Obama had repeatedly stated that "If you like your plan you can keep it" (which, as I noted over a year ago, was an absurd thing for him to promise without including any caveats since there's no way of guaranteeing that the company won't go out of business, leave the state or simply decide to discontinue that policy for their own reasons which may or may not have anything to do with ACA compliance).
  • November, 2013: In response to the "You Can Keep It" brouhaha, President Obama and the HHS Dept. announce a 1-year (later quietly extended to up to 3 years) "transitional" policy for non-compliant plans. Some states take them up on it; some don't.
  • July, 2015: Republicans and other ACA critics complain that allowing the "transitional" policy extension is partly to blame for significant rate hikes expected to show up in 2016.
  • CONCLUSION: Damned if you do, damned if you don't.