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More changes for health insurance laws in the near future?

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Dave Palmer
Open enrollment for private health insurance begins Nov. 1
Open enrollment for private health insurance begins Nov. 1

The nation's health care laws have been through some serious ups and downs over the past several years to say the least, and with the current focus on Capitol Hill still being a "repeal and replace" effort regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, that's not likely to change any time soon. This issue lingers even after the latest attempt - the Graham-Cassidy bill - was struck down. Now, political insiders say more changes may be in the offing.

At this point, the Graham-Cassidy bill is largely considered dead with no hope of revival in its current form, according to Consumer Reports. A number of GOP Senators joined their Democrat colleagues in declining to express support for the legislation, leading to Senate leaders not even holding a vote on the bill. However, party lawmakers also say they will try to introduce another repeal and replace plan after Oct. 1, when the new fiscal year begins for the federal government.

A focus on the states
In all likelihood, the next iteration of the repeal and replace efforts will boil down to giving individual states more power over their health insurance markets, as did Graham-Cassidy, the report said. In addition, some states may become more likely than others to get Medicaid funding and other subsidies for their health insurance exchange programs. All will likely also include an elimination of the federal mandate that all consumers must have health insurance.

The national health care landscape could soon shift considerably.The national health care landscape could soon shift considerably.

A separate approach
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump recently told reporters that he may sign an executive order that could significantly reshape health insurance markets nationwide, according to CNN Money. Specifically, the order would allow consumers to buy insurance across state lines, something that is currently not common nationwide (though some states do allow it). 

Under these rules, insurers would only be required to follow the health insurance rules in the states in which they are based, rather than where they sell, the report said. In theory, this can increase competition and lower prices for consumers.

However, those in the health care industry say such an executive order wouldn't be a good idea, according to Politico. Cross-border insurance is allowed in multiple states, but for the most part insurers have been cagey about actually allowing it themselves. One of the big reasons why they've largely avoided selling across borders is that setting up multi-state coverage networks is extremely complicated.

"Health insurers already have the ability to sell insurance in multiple states as long as they comply with state consumer protection and licensing laws, which many already do," Mike Consedine, CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, told Politico. "The NAIC has long been opposed to any attempt to reduce or preempt state authority or weaken consumer protections."

These are important issues for anyone in the health insurance or health care industries to monitor closely as time goes on, because repeal and replace efforts aren't likely to go away any time soon, and they could have a significant impact on their sectors.

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