Senators Alexander, Corker introduce bill to help aid health insurance exchanges

WASHINGTON (WVLT) -- Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) introduced a bill Wednesday that they said would help Americans currently under the Affordable Care Act who now have no options for health insurance on the exchanges for the 2018 plan year.

Photo courtesy of the office of Senator Lamar Alexander

"There are 34,000 Knoxville area residents who rely on an Affordable Care Act subsidy to purchase insurance, and after the one remaining insurer pulled out of the exchange for 2018, these subsidies are worth as much as bus tickets in a town with no buses running," Alexander said. "There is also a real prospect that all 230,000 Tennesseans who buy insurance on the exchange—approximately 195,000 with a subsidy—won't have any plans to buy next year either, and millions of Americans in other states are facing the same dire circumstances."

Senator Alexander laid out three purposes for proposed legislation: first, to allow Americans receiving a subsidy with no insurance available on next year's exchange to use that subsidy to buy any state-approved insurance off of the exchange; second, to waive the Affordable Care Act requirement that these Americans would have to pay a penalty for not purchasing insurance; and third, to help bring peace of mind between now and the beginning of next year to millions of Americans who would face having zero options of health insurance to purchase with their subsidy.

"At some point, on behalf of the American people, Congress and the administration have to resolve the issues that are driving up health care costs, limiting choices, and causing the exchange market to spiral downward," Senator Corker said. "However, in the interim, we must take steps to ensure people in places like Knoxville, where more than 34,000 individuals receiving subsidies under current law will have zero options in 2018, have the opportunity to purchase health insurance off the exchange in the individual market."

The senators named the bill the Health Care Options Act of 2017. A full summary of the bill can be found here.