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Insurers Come Out Against Skinny Repeal

In the wake of the GOP's failure to pass legislation repealing, or repealing and replacing, the Affordable Care Act, Republican leadership in the Senate is reportedly working to round up support for a "skinny repeal" bill. But outside opposition is mounting.

America's Health Insurance Group, an industry group that also came out against the Consumer Freedom Amendment earlier this month, released a letter on Thursday addressed to Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Chuck Schumer (D-New York) expressing its opposition to any approach that "eliminate[s] the individual coverage requirement, does not offer alternative continuous coverage solutions, and does not include measures to immediately stabilize the individual market." AHIP, in other words, doesn't like skinny repeal.

Senate leadership has described skinny repeal as merely a legislative shell that would allow for further negotiations with the House of Representatives, but the AHIP letter makes a hugely important point: Insurers don't have time to wait around while Senate and House negotiators attempt to reach an agreement on health-care legislation. As the letter states:

The mid-August deadline for finalizing 2018 premiums is rapidly approaching, yet significant uncertainties remain. This continued uncertainty—combined with targeted proposals that would eliminate key elements of current law without new stabilizing solutions—will not solve the problems in the individual market, and in fact will result in higher premiums, fewer choices for consumers, and fewer people covered next year.

Likewise, the bipartisan group of 13 governors who have been advocating for a different approach to ACA reform in recent weeks sent a similar letter to McConnell and Schumer yesterday, which reads:

The Senate should also reject efforts to amend the bill into a 'skinny repeal,' which is expected to accelerate health plans leaving the individual market, increase premiums, and result in fewer Americans having access to coverage.

The final text of the skinny repeal bill hasn't yet been released, but leadership is reportedly hoping to finalize the details on Thursday, which gives Republican lawmakers little time to digest the legislation before a vote, which is expected late Thursday or early Friday.