With GOP health-care efforts in tatters, 3 Arizona lawmakers want a bipartisan fix

July 31, 2017
In The News

After months battling over Republican-led health-care proposals, three Arizona members of Congress have joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers trying to shore up a portion of the nation's insurance system.

A proposal released Monday by the 43-member Problem Solvers Caucus would effectively guarantee insurance subsidies for the individual markets and exempt more businesses from mandated health coverage.

U.S. Rep. Martha McSally helped craft the bipartisan plan for the Republicans as a way to help stabilize the individual markets, which face a deadline next month for setting premium levels even as President Donald Trump has suggested he may withhold subsidies to them.

The individual market is where those who don't receive coverage from their employers or the government purchase plans from private companies. The cost is subsidized for people with lower incomes.

The plan combines elements of the GOP health-care plans in the House and Senate and preserves subsidies that Democrats say help stabilize the individual marketplace. The proposal would have the support of Democratic Reps. Tom O'Halleran and Kyrsten Sinema, of Arizona.

Some Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have been working on their own plans for stabilizing the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Still, it's unclear whether those efforts will get traction as Republicans regroup following the dramatic collapse last week of their efforts to pass conservative health-care legislation.

Both Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in recent days that "bailouts for insurance companies" would not happen.

The House plan would quickly address concerns about the individual market. At the same time, it would only require businesses with more than 500 employees to offer health insurance, a boost from the current 50 workers. It would also count as full-time employees those working 40 hours or more, rather than 29.

"This isn't about saving or completely killing Obamacare. This isn't about fixing Obamacare. This is about addressing the things that are failing under Obamacare, which is the individual market and the impact on small businesses because of the employer mandate," said McSally, who backed the GOP health bill that passed the House in May. "Time is running out for the 2018 markets to be finalized."