Sep 28, 2018

HHS Secretary touts lower Affordable Care Act premiums

Alex Azar. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Premiums for benchmark Affordable Care Act plans are projected to drop in 2019, the first time that has happened since the law has been implemented, HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced yesterday.

The big picture: Premiums are expected to drop 2% nationally, and the number of insurers participating on exchanges will increase for the first time since 2015, Azar added.

  • "The president who was supposedly trying to sabotage the Affordable Care Act has proven better at managing it than the president who wrote the law," Azar said.

Between the lines: The drop in premiums is primarily because insurers raised them too much last year. They did so after President Trump ended the ACA's cost-sharing reduction payments.

  • But that had less of an impact than expected, based on the way insurers responded.
  • "Perhaps ironically, the termination of cost-sharing subsidies has actually promoted stability by boosting premium subsidies, but that wasn't exactly the stated intention of the administration," Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation told Caitlin.
  • Other actions taken under the Trump administration, like the repeal of the individual mandate and the expansion of short-term plans, have probably resulted in premiums decreasing less than they would have otherwise, Levitt added.

State reinsurance programs, which the administration has been actively supportive of, have also played a roll in premium stabilization.

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  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 189,510 — Total deaths: 4,076 — Total recoveries: 7,109.
  3. Business updates: Should you pay your rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Find out if you are protected under the CARES Act.
  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans.
  6. Coronavirus in custody: Inmates in all U.S. federal prisons are set to enter a 14-day quarantine on April 1. A federal judge on Tuesday ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release 10 detained immigrants who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 while in confinement.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Captain of nuclear aircraft carrier docked in Guam pleaded with the U.S. Navy for more resources after more than 100 members of his crew tested positive.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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