CA Sets “Guaranteed Access Pool” as Priority at Congressional Staff Briefings if Republicans Repeal the ACA

Consumer advocacy group Communicating for America (CA) will speak at the January 12, 2017 Congressional Staff Briefing sponsored by the Council for Affordable Health Coverage (CAHC) to lay out its plans for stabilizing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace once Republicans repeal the 2010 health reform law. CA will call for an immediate creation of Guaranteed Access Pools, modeled after High Risk Pools that existed before Obamacare, as a safety net so that all consumers are given access to some kind of health insurance.

The CAHC staff briefing will also focus on the decline of plan choice and competition, the increase of health insurance premiums and the imbalance of the high risk population, which has proven to be more sickly and elderly than originally anticipated when the ACA became law.

Jeff Smedsrud, CEO of Communicating for America, said his organization’s 100,000 self-employed rural Americans believes repeal must be accompanied with some guarantee of access to insurance.  “A new vocabulary for health care reform is emerging. Reform will be focused on ‘choice’ ‘responsibility’ ‘rewards’ and guaranteed ‘access’ to health insurance instead of guaranteed ‘issue’ of a government-mandated health plan with costly benefits.”

Smedsrud, a health consumer advocate for much of his career, is the founder of the National Association of State Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans, which with the support of Communicating for America, helped established the 35 state high risk pools for uninsurable individuals that were in place prior to the ACA. The state of Minnesota, which founded one of the first high risk pools in 1976, has become a flagship example of a successfully run state pool that helped thousands of individuals with pre-existing conditions gain access to health insurance coverage while maintaining a balanced individual market within the state.

“These new pooling arrangements shouldn’t be restricted to just individuals who are high risk, or have pre-existing conditions. They should be structured as a safety net for a wide swath of consumers who can’t afford the plan they now have, and costs should be tied to personal responsibility to maintain health coverage with rewards, when possible, for those actively managing and improving their personal well-being,” said Smedsrud.

Other topics for the Congressional staff briefing will include a background on the Budget Reconciliation process, and a need for short term market stabilization as consumers transition away from Obamacare plans or wait for the Republican replacement.

“Health care reform is complicated, but Communicating for America stands with the Council for Affordable Health Coverage to stabilize both the individual and short term markets, encourage more competition and expand choice for health care consumers, including those with pre-existing conditions,” said Smedsrud.

The Congressional staff briefing will be held January 12, 2017, at 9:30 a.m. in the Rayburn Office Building, 50 Independence Ave. SW, Room 2020, Washington, D.C. 20003.