Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Federal Comment Period Begins; Iowa Stopgap Measure on Course for Approval; Stopgap.iowa.gov Launches

Des Moines – The Iowa Insurance Division, on behalf of the State of Iowa, received a letter of completeness today from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for the Iowa Stopgap Measure.  The letter of completeness moves the Iowa Stopgap Measure forward toward final approval.

“We appreciate the Trump Administration’s commitment to state flexibility and providing relief from the ACA,” Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen said.  “We look forward to swift approval by the administration after the federal comment period closes so the Iowa Stopgap Measure can be ready for the 2018 open enrollment period starting November 1, 2017.”

The Iowa Stopgap Measure was formally sent for approval on August 21, 2017 to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the U.S. Department of Treasury. Iowa’s Stopgap Measure is short-term solution providing relief from the ACA.  The Stopgap Measure provides consumers with age- and income-based premium credits while utilizing a reinsurance mechanism to keep premium costs down for all consumers.

“Without the Iowa Stopgap Measure, over 20,000 middle class farmers, early retirees and self-employed Iowans will likely either go uninsured or leave Iowa,” Ommen said.  “The economic impact on many Iowa families would be catastrophic.  With the Iowa Stopgap Measure on course for approval, this will help keep these individuals in our market until Congress either fixes the law or sends it back to the states so that we can.”

This letter from the CMS triggers the beginning of a 30-day federal comment period regarding the Iowa Stopgap Measure.  Iowans are encouraged to submit comments regarding the Iowa Stopgap Measure to CMS Administrator Seema Verma and Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) Director Randy Pate by email at StateInnovationWaivers@cms.hhs.gov and include Iowa Section 1332 Waiver Comments in the subject heading.  Please include your name, organization (if any), and email address with the comments.

The Iowa Insurance Division has launched https://stopgap.iowa.gov to provide information to Iowans regarding the Iowa Stopgap Measure.  Information will continue to be updated and posted as it becomes available.  Once the Iowa Stopgap Measure is approved by the federal government, Iowans will be able to complete the eligibility application from https://stopgap.iowa.gov.  After the State of Iowa has confirmed eligibility, the individuals will purchase a plan under the Iowa Stopgap Measure directly from a carrier offering a plan in their county.

Medica, Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Wellmark Value and Wellmark Synergy have all submitted forms and rates to offer plans through the Iowa Stopgap Measure.  Iowans in all 99 counties would have access to at least one carrier through the Iowa Stopgap Measure.  Rates from the carriers are still being reviewed for completeness and accuracy, however, the rates proposed under the ACA would be roughly 70 – 85 percent higher than the rates proposed under the Iowa Stopgap Measure.