LISTEN LIVE KPR - On Air: Listen Live to classical, jazz and NPR news Schedule LATEST
NEWSCAST
KPR 2 - On Air: Listen live to KPR's all talk-radio service, KPR2 Recordings

Share this page              

Senate Republicans Alter Health Care Bill To Avoid 'Death Spiral'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, walks through the U.S. Capitol on Thursday following the release of a draft of the Senate Republican's health care bill. An updated version was released on Monday.

Senate Republicans have updated their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, attempting to patch a hole that threatened to destabilize the individual insurance market.

The original Senate bill, unveiled last week, required insurance companies to offer coverage to everyone, including people with pre-existing medical conditions. But there was no requirement that individuals purchase insurance. Critics said that created a perverse incentive for healthy people to go without insurance, only buying coverage after they got sick. Without enough healthy customers making regular premium payments, insurance companies would be forced to raise prices, driving more customers away — a situation sometimes described as a "death spiral."

The revised bill attempts to solve that problem by imposing a penalty on those who don't maintain continuous insurance coverage: People who let their coverage lapse for at least 63 days in one year would be locked out of the insurance market for six months the following year.

The change comes as congressional forecasters are trying to predict how the Senate bill would affect insurance costs and coverage. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is expected to release its analysis of the bill early this week.

It's not clear whether the threat of a six-month waiting period would be enough to keep healthy customers in the insurance market. The Affordable Care Act already includes a limited enrollment window when people can sign up for coverage, along with a tax penalty for those who don't. Even with those provisions, many insurance companies have struggled to attract a good mix of healthy and less healthy customers.

The bill passed by House Republicans relies on a different mechanism to encourage healthy people to buy coverage. Those who don't would have to pay a premium when they finally did sign up.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Tower Frequencies

91.5 FM KANU Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas City
96.1 FM K241AR Lawrence (KPR2)
89.7 FM KANH Emporia
99.5 FM K258BT Manhattan
97.9 FM K250AY Manhattan (KPR2)
91.3 FM  KANV Junction City, Olsburg
89.9 FM K210CR Atchison
90.3 FM KANQ Chanute

See the Coverage Map for more details

Contact Us

Kansas Public Radio
1120 West 11th Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Download Map
785-864-4530 (Main Line)
888-577-5268 (Toll Free)
contact@kansaspublicradio.org