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All 3 insurers on Arkansas health exchange apply to stay

Firms meet state deadline, submit health-plan details

All three companies that offer plans on Arkansas' health insurance exchange have applied to continue providing coverage in 2018, a spokesman for the Arkansas Insurance Department said Tuesday.

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, St. Louis-based Centene Corp. and Little Rock-based QualChoice each met a Monday deadline to submit details of their proposed plans, department spokesman Ryan James said.

The companies' proposed rates for 2018 are due July 14.

The companies' filings come despite uncertainty about whether the federal government will continue providing subsidies, as part of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, that help low-income consumers pay out-of-pocket costs for medical care.

Ruling last year in a lawsuit filed by Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives, a federal judge found that the government is not authorized to make the payments because they weren't authorized by Congress.

The judge has allowed the payments to continue while the lawsuit is on appeal. The lawsuit doesn't challenge other subsidies, provided through tax credits, that help many consumers pay the premiums for the plans.

Offered to consumers through healthcare.gov, the plans on Arkansas' exchange cover about 360,000 people, including 300,000 low-income adults whose premiums are paid by the state Medicaid program under the so-called private option. The federal suit does not challenge the Medicaid subsidies.

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Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield spokesman Max Greenwood has said about half of her company's customers who are in non-Medicaid exchange plans receive the subsidies being challenged in the federal suit.

"We believe our offerings will give our members and Arkansas consumers options that meet their individual health care needs," Greenwood said in an email Tuesday.

She said she didn't want to provide details about the plans until they are approved by the Insurance Department.

The company offers plans under its own name and that of the national Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

QualChoice plans to continue offering exchange coverage "as of today," spokesman Christy Garrett said Tuesday.

"Depending on what happens with the [federal health care] law, a lot might change, but the base plan" is to continue participating, Garrett said.

She said she didn't know of any differences in the company's offerings for 2018 compared to this year's.

A Centene representative didn't return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

Major health insurers in other states have pulled out of health exchanges because of the uncertainty over the federal health care law and because of growing losses not covered by premiums. Humana and Aetna have said they will no longer offer plans on exchanges in states where they had previously participated.

The insurers' departure for 2018 means many states will be left with only one company offering plans on the exchanges that were created under the 2010 federal health care law.

Metro on 05/17/2017

Comments

TimberTopper says...

Looks like Obamacare is working. Oh, that can't be. Must be fake news. LOL!

Posted 17 May 2017, 5:16 a.m. Suggest removal

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