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Alexander: Unless Congress Acts on Health Care Law, 29,000 Memphis Area Residents May Be Unable to Buy Insurance in 2018

Tells Greater Memphis Chamber that “having an Affordable Care Act subsidy may be as useful as a bus ticket in a town with no buses running” if remaining insurer leaves exchange

MEMPHIS, Tenn., May 5, 2017 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said that unless Congress acts on the health care law, 29,000 Memphis area residents may be unable to buy insurance with their Affordable Care Act subsidy in 2018. 

“Memphis area residents currently have one choice of insurer on the Affordable Care Act exchange for 2018 – and if the remaining insurer leaves the exchange, these individuals will be left with an Affordable Care Act subsidy that’s as useful to them as a bus ticket in a town with no buses running,” Alexander told the Greater Memphis Chamber today. “The House has just passed a bill that would make major changes in the Affordable Care Act, and now, in the Senate, we will carefully review the House bill and we will write a Senate billWe’ll work with urgency because of what’s happening in the individual market in Tennessee and across the country, but we’ll take the time to get it right.”

Alexander continued, “My own goals for a Senate bill include: 1) rescuing the thousands of Tennesseans and millions of Americans who will be trapped in collapsing Affordable Care Act exchanges with few or even zero options for health insurance in 2018 unless Congress acts; 2) lowering premium costs, which have increased under the ACA law; 3) gradually giving states more flexibility on the Medicaid program, but do this in a way that does not pull the rug out from under people who rely on Medicaid; and 4) making sure those with pre-existing conditions have access to insurance.”

Alexander also discussed the Health Care Options Act that he introduced in March with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) to rescue Americans with Affordable Care Act subsidies – like those in the Memphis area – who may have zero options for health insurance on the exchange for the 2018 plan year.

“Our legislation would help those in Tennessee and across the country by allowing any American who receives a subsidy and has no insurance available on their exchange next year to use that subsidy to buy any state-approved insurance outside of the Affordable Care Act exchanges,” Alexander said. “Second, the bill would waive the Affordable Care Act requirement that Americans in these counties, who have zero insurance options with their subsides, have to pay a penalty for not purchasing insurance.  And third, this legislation will help bring peace of mind between now and the beginning of next year to millions of Americans, some of the most vulnerable people in the country, who face having zero options of health insurance to purchase with their subsidy.”

Alexander said that rescuing Tennesseans and millions of Americans trapped in the collapsing Obamacare exchanges will continue to be his focus as he reviews the House health care bill and the Senate works on a Senate bill.

“We'll move ahead with deliberate speed,” Alexander said. “We’re doing that because exchanges are collapsing, people could be without insurance, premiums will skyrocket if we don’t act, but we want to get it right. There will be no artificial deadlines. We will carefully consider the legislation passed by the House. We will work together carefully to write our own bill. We will make sure we know what our bill costs when we vote on it. We will get it right and then we will vote.”