The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has decided that Congress needs to allow the government to collect user fees from health insurers and that those dollars “can be used to defray some insurers’ losses,” according to a Bloomberg story.
“The opinion, addressed to two congressional Republicans, concerns a temporary risk corridors program under the Affordable Care Act designed to limit the losses and gains of qualified health plans participating in the marketplaces during 2014-2016,” the story said. “The program was originally expected to be budget-neutral, but many believe that insurers may incur greater losses for 2014 than expected because people who had health problems enrolled more heavily in 2014 than healthier people. The opinion by GAO General Counsel Susan Poling said the CMS PM appropriations for fiscal 2014 ‘would have been available to CMS to make the payments.’ However, it said, ‘for funds to be available for this purpose in FY 2015, the CMS PM appropriation for FY 2015 must include language similar to the language included in the CMS PM appropriation for FY 2014.’ The first collections from insurers and payments to insurers are to be made in the summer of 2015.”
The story quoted America’s Health Insurance Plans spokesperson Clare Krusing saying: “Eliminating this market-stabilizing program could mean higher premiums, which is the last thing consumers are looking for right now.”