GOP Hopes to Mitigate Insurers’ Bailing Under Obamacare Replacement

The Trump administration and Capitol Hill Republicans are trying to stabilize the individual health insurance market, hoping to keep insurers from canceling plans or raising rates in 2018 as uncertainty builds over what a replacement for Obamacare might look like.

President Trump, who now says the replacement effort could stretch into next year, recently filed a regulatory notice seeking “market stabilization” under the Affordable Care Act.

The actual text won’t be released until the White House Budget Office vets the proposed changes, but the administration wants to tighten loopholes that have allowed Obamacare customers to obtain care without paying a full year’s worth of premiums, said Edmund Haislmaier, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation who advised Mr. Trump’s transition team.

He said Mr. Trump will likely require Obamacare customers to verify their legal immigration status or other conditions of eligibility before they sign up rather than scrubbing applications after they’re enrolled.

The administration also wants to fully vet people who try to enroll in between the traditional sign-up seasons, or even reduce the number of categories that allow people to qualify for the so-called “special enrollment periods.”

President Obama started to tighten the rules by requiring proof-of-life changes, though insurers say it is still too easy for customers to apply once they need care rather than paying premiums from the start of the year.

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