Administration Shores Up Exchanges, but Congress May Plant Time Bomb

Market Stabilization Won’t Succeed With Legislative Disruption

::: Jon Healy ::: Los Angeles Times

With the drive to “repeal and replace” Obamacare losing steam, the Trump administration quietly moved to shore up a key feature of the healthcare law this week: the state exchanges where people shop for non-group coverage. And to its credit, Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services zeroed in on some of the factors that have led a handful of major insurers to leave the exchanges.

But before you praise (or condemn) Trump for coming to Obamacare’s rescue, consider this: Another arm of the new administration has taken a step that could undo much of the work the department is trying to do, and leave the exchanges no better off — and possibly in worse shape — than they are today.

The real threat to the exchanges’ health remains the specter of Congress enacting a law that repeals all or part of Obamacare in two or three years. Planting such a legislative time bomb would have an immediate impact, sending the market for non-group insurance policies quickly into chaos, according to analysts from both sides of the political spectrum. As John Rother of the pro-Obamacare National Coalition on Health Care put it, “No market stabilization effort can succeed if policymakers disrupt existing coverage arrangements rather than improving on them.” The article is here.