Lipinski Warns of Sept. 27 Obamacare Deadline

The Herald-News

A deadline is fast approaching that could lead to a spike in insurance rates for people who get health care through the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, R-Western Springs, said.

Lipinski, whose district includes sections of Will County, said Friday that it’s hard to get people to pay attention to the Sept. 27 deadline amid calls to repeal the Affordable Care Act and now the Bernie Sanders proposal for a new single-payer system.

Lipinski is part of a bipartisan group called the Problem Solvers Caucus that has pushed for an Affordable Care Act compromise that would keep the program intact next year and is designed to prevent big rate hikes.

He said it’s been difficult to get attention amid calls for repealing the Affordable Care Act.

“I think that’s taking Republicans’ attention away, and Bernie Sanders introducing his bill is more or less taking Democrats’ attention away,” Lipinski said.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, last week proposed a single-payer system that would replace the Affordable Care Act. It became the latest focus of attention in the national debate over the future of health care.

Meanwhile, Lipinski said, health insurance companies participating in the Affordable Care Act face a Sept. 27 deadline to sign contracts for 2018. Without a stable system in place for next year, Lipinski said, insurers are likely to hike rates significantly because of increased risks in coverage.

“I don’t think people understand, even in Washington, that on Sept. 27 there is a deadline for insurance companies to sign their contracts,” he said. “After Sept. 27, they’re locked in.”

That deadline could be pushed back a few days, Lipinski said, but enrollment for 2018 starts Oct. 1.

The risk faced by insurers is that President Trump has threatened to withhold federal funds used to subsidize premiums. The subsidies, which make insurance affordable for low-income participants in the Affordable Care Act, always have been provided at the discretion of the president because legislation creating the Affordable Care Act did not include language authorizing the spending.

The Problem Solvers Caucus proposal would appropriate money for the subsidies while loosening mandates on employers required to provide insurance to their workers. It also would fund reinsurance programs designed to keep down insurance costs.

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, also is a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus and has voiced his support for the group’s health care compromise.