Iowa withdraws ACA waiver application, calls law 'unworkable'

Doug Ommen, Iowa's insurance commissioner, sent a letter to HHS and the Treasury department Monday announcing the state would withdraw its section 1332 waiver request, according to The Des Moines Register.

Iowa formally submitted the waiver application Aug. 21, which sought to eliminate the state's ACA exchange and reconfigure federal subsidies to provide relief for those who earn too much to currently qualify for subsidies. The waiver, which Iowa officials referred to as an emergency stopgap measure, was still under review by CMS. However, the application was withdrawn because the state would not have had enough time to implement necessary changes before ACA enrollment begins Nov. 1.  

Mr. Ommen does not blame President Donald Trump's administration for the rescinded application, instead placing blame on the ACA.

"Obamacare is an unworkable law. The Stopgap Measure was an innovative solution to help thousands of Iowans," Mr. Ommen said. "Unfortunately, Obamacare's waiver rules are so inflexible that the Stopgap cannot be approved under terms that would be workable for Iowa. This is evidenced by the fact that a bipartisan group of senators recently announced a bill to fix some of the inflexibilities on Obamacare's waiver provision that Iowa has run into."

When the stopgap proposal was first unveiled in June, no insurers were set to offer plans on Iowa's 2018 exchange, though Minnetonka, Minn.-based Medica will now provide coverage options in each of the state's 99 counties. In early October, an anonymous source told The Washington Post President Trump ordered CMS Administrator Seema Verma in August to deny Iowa's waiver request in an effort to undermine the ACA.

In a joint statement with Ms. Verma, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) praised the efforts of the CMS in considering the waiver and pointed to the ACA as the root cause of Iowa's insurance woes.

"Premiums under Obamacare have increased 110% for Iowans since 2013, and thousands of Iowans can no longer afford health insurance," Ms. Reynolds and Ms. Verma said. "Iowa pursued state flexibility through the Stopgap Measure, but ultimately, Obamacare is an inflexible law that Congress must repeal and replace. Obamacare is unaffordable, unsustainable and unworkable."

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