Governor Steve Bullock and Department of Administration Director John Lewis have tasked a bipartisan work group with saving Montanans money on individual health insurance premiums, following a new report commissioned by the Montana Healthcare Foundation that shows a state reinsurance program could save Montanans 10-20% on health insurance premiums.
“With the uncertainty and instability coming out of Washington D.C., we must do what we can in Montana to drive down costs and stabilize the marketplace – and the time to act is now,” said Governor Bullock. “Stability and affordability is particularly important to a state like Montana. I believe we can find common ground from both sides of the aisle to make healthcare affordable for Montanans, while preserving consumer protections and market competition unique to Montana.”
“Access to health coverage is key to strengthening the health and livelihood of Montanans, yet recent federal action has destabilized the individual market, leaving Montanans who buy individual health coverage with increasing health insurance premiums,” said Director John Lewis. “Reinsurance for Montana could be a game-changer in the battle against rising healthcare costs.”
Recent federal actions by Congress and the federal government, like expanding short-term junk plans, refusing to make cost-sharing reduction payments, and eliminating enrollment funds for three states including Montana, are driving health insurance premiums higher for Montanans in the individual market. A report released earlier this year found that an average Montanan enrolled will pay about $1,300 more for health insurance next year due to federal actions.
The work group is tasked with developing bipartisan legislation to leverage federal funds for a public reinsurance program that will increase certainty and stability in Montana’s individual health insurance market. In addition to state legislation, the group is tasked with exploring how Montana can access federal savings the stability fund will generate to fund the program.
A state-based reinsurance program provides reinsurance to the issuers in the individual Affordable Care Act (ACA) market with the primary goal of lowering premiums. According to the new report by the Montana Healthcare Foundation, a reinsurance program in Montana is projected to achieve a 10-20% reduction in premium rates for the 2020 plan year and would lower premium amounts for the entire market. Read the Montana Healthcare Foundation’s full report at this link: https://mthcf.org/resources/individual-market-stabilization-reinsurance-analysis/
The work group is designed to provide the technical expertise needed to develop legislation to set up the stability fund and outline how the program can best be administered and funded, as well as establishing possible operational parameters and making sure consumer protections and a healthy competitive market remain intact.
The work group will consist of 13 public and private members, including health plan representatives, members of the legislature, consumer advocates, and representatives from the Governor’s Office and the State Auditor’s Office. The group will also rely on the expertise of other stakeholders including health care providers, and non-profit, philanthropic and community-based organizations.
Governor Bullock has consistently fought to increase access and lower costs of healthcare. Last year, he worked with a bipartisan group of governors to reject efforts to sabotage the ACA and instead pursue an open and transparent process to find bipartisan solutions on healthcare reform. He testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions and urged the committee to focus on the immediate steps Congress can take to stabilize premiums and help individuals in the insurance market.