Health Insurance: Sununu supports federal waiver to stabilize NH’s marketplace

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Gov. Sununu

CONCORD, NH – New Hampshire’s individual health care insurance market is in jeopardy, due to gridlock in Washington, D.C., and a looming market failure across the state, says Gov. Chris Sununu. On Tuesday, the governor weighed in by penning a letter to health department oversight committee endorsing a federal waiver plan that would keep rate increases in check while urging insurance carriers to disclose whether they are “in” or “out” of the marketplace.  

On July 19 the New Hampshire Insurance Department posted a notice seeking public comment, the first step in filing an application with the federal government for $8.2 million in funding, part of a two-pronged plan to stabilize the state’s individual health insurance market. The Insurance Department is proposing a Section 1332 waiver, effective January 1, 2018 for one year, with an option to renew for additional years with passage of state legislation.

The state is also looking at whether it is possible to recover additional savings associated with the Premium Assistance Program that would arise from operation of the reinsurance mechanism. 

Two public hearings are scheduled for residents to weigh in on this proposal, the first taking place Aug. 2 in Concord, and the second taking place Aug. 3 in Lebanon (see links below). Both sessions are at 1 p.m., however residents unable to attend can sign up to join the Aug. 2 session via webinar.

On Aug. 1 Gov. Chris Sununu issued a letter to the NH Insurance Department’s Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee on his stance around the federal waiver. The full letter is embedded below.

Sununu said in the letter that he “sees no solution from Washington in sight” to stabilize New Hampshire individual health insurance market, and that the proposed federal waiver could be a useful tool in protecting the 50,000 New Hampshire residents currently participating in the individual insurance market. He called on the Trump administration to fund cost-sharing reduction payments until a sufficient replacement for the Affordable Care Act is in place.

More on the federal waiver

In the July 19 statement released by the NH Insurance Department,  a state-operated reinsurance program was recommended. It would be funded initially by an assessment of all health insurance companies operating in the state and, with the addition of federal dollars, could provide $45 million to cover the cost of high-cost claims. Such a plan would allow companies offering plans on the individual market to lower their rates.

In order to receive the federal funding, the Department seeks to waive a limited portion of the federal health care law in order to allow New Hampshire to receive what is known as “pass-through” funding from the U.S. government. This funding is the equivalent of what the federal government is estimated to save – because of the reinsurance program – in payments to insurance companies associated with the purchase of exchange plans for New Hampshire residents.

Actuarial analysis prepared for the Insurance Department estimates the reinsurance program will save the federal government $9 million in Advance Premium Tax Credits for 2018. The federal funding, obtained through what is known as a Section 1332 waiver, would be effective January 1, 2018 for one year, with an option to renew for additional years with passage of state legislation. The state is also looking at whether it is possible to recover additional savings associated with the Premium Assistance Program that would arise from operation of the reinsurance mechanism. 


Public Hearing Information

  • Register here for the August 2 public hearing at the Walker Building in Concord
  • Register here for the August 3 public hearing at the Kilton Library in West Lebanon
  • Residents who are unable to attend a hearing in person may register to attend the August 2 hearing in Concord via webinar using this link

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About Carol Robidoux 5552 Articles
Journalist and editor of ManchesterInkLink.com, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.