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States Move to Offset Shift in ACA Policies

By Steven Porter  
   April 13, 2018

Maryland and New Jersey passed laws designed to help stabilize their health insurance markets.

As the federal government continues to denounce the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and neutralize some of its requirements, certain states are responding with countermeasures of their own.

New Jersey lawmakers sent a bill Thursday to Gov. Phil Murphy that would reinstate a state-level individual mandate to require most insurers to have health insurance or pay a penalty, as the Asbury Park Press reported. A separate state bill would establish a reinsurance plan funded partly with federal dollars.

"It's a two-pronged attack to get at premium costs,” New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute President and CEO Linda Schwimmer told the Press.

Other states are considering similar policies to stabilize their insurance markets.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, recently signed the Maryland Health Care Access Act of 2018, which reinstates a fee insurers used to pay through the ACA, as The Frederick News-Post reported. The fee is expected to funnel about $300 million into the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange Fund.

“Increasing rates have been a problem now for close to a decade and are a direct result of massive changes to our health care laws made in Washington. And the problems have only increased due to the lack of action in Washington,” Hogan said, as the News-Post reported. “The stakes here were tremendous, but we faced this crisis together, and we addressed it head-on.”

The bill also requires that a study be conducted to recommend further stabilizing measures Maryland may implement over the coming year.

Andy Slavitt, who served as acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under former President Barack Obama, said New Jersey and Maryland are leading the way to shore up the ACA despite efforts to undermine Obama's signature healthcare law.

"What states do today, the country will do beginning 2021," Slavitt wrote Thursday in a tweet.

But others are less convinced that state efforts will be able to solve the ACA riddle, as Sam Baker wrote last month for Axios. Baker cited several reasons, including the fact that state-level individual mandates aren't significantly more popular than the federal-level mandate was.

Steven Porter is an associate content manager and Strategy editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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