House Republican health plan would hit Alaska hard

CBPP: Reduction of tax credits would be more severe for lower income, older consumers

A new report by a national nonpartisan research and policy institute says Alaska would suffer the biggest cuts to tax credits of any state under the repeal plan to the Affordable Care Act under consideration in the U.S. House.

Estimates released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on March 9 say that while tax credits would fall by an average of $1,700, or 36 percent for marketplace consumers nationwide, they would fall by an average of $10,243, or 78 percent, in Alaska.

That’s largely because the House plan’s tax credits, unlike those in the Affordable Care Act, would not adjust for geographic variation in premiums.

Under the current federal health care law, a 45-year-old earning $22,000 could purchase benchmark health insurance coverage for $1,200 or less anywhere in the country, while under the House plan, the same person would pay at least $11,800 to purchase comparable coverage in Alaska.

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Reduction of tax credits would be even more severe for lower-income and older consumers, the report said. Older persons would also be hit with a House bill provision that would let them be charged higher premiums, and those on lower income would love help with deductibles, copays and coinsurance.

Protect Our Care Alaska, a coalition of individuals and organizations who want a health care plan that will work for Alaska, said in a statement released on March 9 that the House plan is highly irresponsible. “Not only would it put coverage and care out of reach for thousands of Alaskans, it could put our entire individual market for health insurance at risk,” said spokesman Trevor Storrs, executive director of the Alaska Children’s Trust.

Because of its high premiums, Alaska currently receives the highest per person premium tax credits in the nation under the Affordable Care Act, averaging $11,595 per marketplace consumer on an annualized basis for 2017. Even before fully implementing Medicaid expansion, the uninsured rate in Alaska fell sharply, from 18.9 percent in 2013 to 10.3 percent in mid-2015, reflecting that low and moderate income residents were finally able to buy health insurance in the individual market, according to CBPP.

The House plan’s severe cuts to tax credits in Alaska would almost certainly result in large coverage losses and could plunge Alaska’s individual market into a crisis position, the report said. That is because a decline in enrollment would lead to increases in premiums, resulting in further enrollment decline and further premium increases, a potentially complete collapse.

The House Republican health plan would also effectively bring to an end Alaska’s Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, coverage currently held by thousands of Alaskans. That plan would also radically restructure Medicaid’s federal financing system and cut federal Medicaid funding for states over time, according to the report.

Read the complete Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of the impact of the House Republican ACA repeal plan tax credits at http://bit.ly/2n9YmwF