Feb 6, 2018 - Health Care

Insurers want help from Congress — and fast

Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower. Photo: Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

Insurance companies are leaning hard on Congress to pass new reinsurance funding, hoping lawmakers might even take up such a measure this week as part of yet another short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown.

How it works: Reinsurance directly compensates insurance companies for some of their most expensive claims, so they don’t have to make up for those costs by raising everyone’s premiums.

  • The Blues like the reinsurance bill from Rep. Ryan Costello, largely because it includes some "parameters" for states to follow if they don’t have an existing policy infrastructure in place — or time to set one up — to administer a reinsurance program.

What they're saying:

  • The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association told a group of reporters yesterday that it thinks next year’s premiums are set to rise by an average of roughly 13%, thanks to normal increases in medical costs plus the repeal of the individual mandate.
  • But those projected premiums would fall by an average of 17% if Congress creates a new reinsurance program, and another 10% of it funds the ACA’s cost-sharing subsidies, BCBSA said. (These are estimates for a middle-of-the-road “silver” plan — the policies where the cost-sharing payments make the biggest difference.)

The odds: Reinsurance has bipartisan support. Getting it done this week is asking a lot.

What's next

Bolton alleges in book that Trump tied Ukraine aid to investigations

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton alleges in his forthcoming book that the president explicitly told him "he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens," the New York Times first reported.

Why this matters: The revelations present a dramatic 11th hour turn in Trump's Senate impeachment trial. They directly contradict Trump's claim that he never tied the hold-up of Ukrainian aid to his demands for investigations into his political opponent Joe Biden.

Honoring Kobe Bryant: Sports stars, politicians and celebrities mourn NBA great

Kobe Bryant on court for the Los Angeles Lakers during the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest on All-Star Saturday Night, part of 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend at American Airlines Center in Dallas in February 2010. Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Sports stars, politicians and celebrities paid tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a California helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others on Saturday. He was 41.

What they're saying: Lakers great Shaquille O'Neal said in an Instagram post of his former teammate, "There's no words to express the pain I'm going through now with this tragic and sad moment of losing my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships, my dude and my homie. I love you brother and you will be missed."

Go deeperArrow3 hours ago - Sports

What's next: Trump's broader travel ban

A sign for International Arrivals is shown at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP

President Trump is expected to announce an expanded travel ban this week, which would restrict immigration from seven additional countries — Nigeria, Myanmar, Sudan, Belarus, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan and Tanzania, per multiple reports.

  • The announcement would come on the third anniversary of Trump's original travel ban, which targeted Muslim-majority nations, per Axios' Stef Kight.