House Democrats unveiled a series of proposals aimed at stabilizing Obamacare's exchanges that include pouring more money into the markets.
A collection of 10 House Democrats unveiled the proposal on Wednesday and it comes at a time when some Senate Republicans are turning towards other bipartisan solutions for fixing the individual market as support flounders for a Republican healthcare reform bill.
Chief among the proposals is creating an annual $15 billion reinsurance fund to help stabilize markets. Reinsurance would cover high claims for insurers.
While Obamacare included several programs to share risk among insurers to cover the cost of covering people with pre-existing conditions, some of those programs have expired.
The proposal also calls for fully funding the cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers, which reimburse insurers for lowering copays and deductibles of low-income Obamacare customers.
The Trump administration has not decided whether to commit to making the cost-sharing payments in 2018, which in some cases has led insurers to raise premiums in some areas. Insurers are required under Obamacare to lower copays and deductibles for poor Obamacare customers and the government would in turn reimburse them.
Other ideas include considering expanding the availability of catastrophic health insurance plans that include essential health benefits and coverage for primary care for younger people. A major problem with Obamacare is the law's enrollment population has been too sick, with not enough young and healthy people to offset high medical claims.
Another idea is to align Obamacare's open enrollment period to tax season. This would ensure that people who face the individual mandate penalty for not having insurance can "enroll in coverage and avoid it in future years," the proposal said. "Many taxpayers receiving tax refunds will also see an influx in cash which could help offset premium costs."
But it remains unclear how politically viable the proposal would be.
Senate Republican leadership hopes to vote on a healthcare bill that partially repeals Obamacare, including the law's mandates to get insurance.
However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not have enough support for the bill yet. He hopes to hold a vote as early as next week on a revised version expected Thursday.
McConnell has said if the bill fails then Republicans will have to work with Democrats to find a way to stabilize the individual market, which has been bereft with insurer defections and high premium hikes in some parts of the country.
Some Republicans are already taking measures into their own hands. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has been holding informal talks with Democrats recently.
However, a major condition for Democrats to get on board with any bipartisan health talks is for Republicans to not repeal Obamacare, which would go against a major promise that Republicans made to their base.