The Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday released a checklist for states that choose to seek waivers from certain Obamacare requirements.
Through the waivers, commonly known as "innovation waivers" or 1332 waivers, states can ask the federal government to allow them to set up high-risk pools, reinsurance programs or another proposal that would reduce costs for customers or allow for more people to be covered.
The waivers, created under Obamacare, have been considered by states in the past. Colorado proposed switching to a single-payer model, but it was voted down by its residents. California filed a waiver with Health and Human Services that would have allowed people in the country illegally to buy unsubsidized insurance on the exchanges, but withdrew its application after President Trump won the election.
In aiming to change the provisions under Obamacare and give states more flexibility, the Trump administration has encouraged their use. In March, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price urged states to use the provision."The failure of the individual marketplace under Obamacare is driving insurers out of counties and states at an alarming rate, leaving millions of Americans without choices for affordable health insurance," Price said. "The innovation waiver process provides Americans relief from the damage Obamacare continues to inflict on health insurance markets."When given the opportunity to strengthen their own health insurance markets, states have innovated to improve access to quality healthcare. The Innovation Waiver Checklist is a guide for states that seek greater flexibility to lower costs, improve choices and design a healthcare system that actually responds to the unique needs of their communities."
In the announcement, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services noted that double-digit premium increases have been requested in several states and that some insurers are fleeing the Obamacare exchanges that allow customers to buy tax-subsidized coverage. Republicans have blamed such actions on the structure of the program, while Democrats have said that Republicans have introduced uncertainty into the marketplace through vowing to repeal the healthcare law. Insurers have attributed the troubles to a mix of both factors.