Nonprofits could sponsor ACA premiums under proposed bill

Legislators have proposed a bill that would allow nonprofit organizations to contribute premium assistance to people with health plans on the state exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act.

The Access to Marketplace Insurance Act aims to refine a rule CMS implemented to discourage insurers from accepting premium assistance from third parties for people with specific health conditions. The rule intended to prevent a large number of people with serious medical conditions from enrolling in the marketplaces and skewing medical cost-sharing.

However, some patient advocates claim insurers are using the rule to deny charitable contributions for patients with chronic conditions while still accepting assistance for healthier members. "Turning away the sickest patients may be good for insurance companies' bottom lines but it is morally wrong and, we believe, illegal," American Kidney Fund President and CEO LaVarne Burton said in a statement applauding the legislation.  

Rep. Kevin Cramer introduced the Access to Marketplace Insurance Act November 25.

"[The Affordable Care Act] uses tax dollars to provide subsides to low-income citizens to purchase healthcare insurance but it allows states to ban non-profits, civic groups and churches from doing the same," Mr. Kramer said in a statement. "That is wrong, and this bill removes the handcuffs from private charities, allowing them to assist insured patients who need help paying their premiums without fear of breaking the law."

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