Iowa’s U.S. Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, along with Congressmen Steve King (IA-04), David Young (IA-03), and Rod Blum (IA-01), sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma urging CMS to repeal guidance that hinders states (like Iowa), with failing individual health insurance markets, from applying for waivers to pursue additional, innovative health care coverage options for individuals.

The Iowa members stated that “section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows states to waive certain parts of the law to pursue innovative models of health coverage for their citizens.” In 2015, CMS issued guidance to clarify this section, however “this sub-regulatory guidance has hindered, not helped, states’ efforts to design and implement innovative models of health coverage, as evidenced by the Iowa Stopgap Measure which was submitted and then withdrawn in 2017.”

Additionally, they pointed to the inflexibility of this guidance as the reason Iowa was forced to withdraw the 1332 waiver it submitted and “without the necessary approval of the waiver request by CMS, Iowa’s individual market has continued to collapse.” And, they urged Administrator Verma to immediately rescind this guidance so that states like Iowa can truly innovate and bring stability and affordability to their markets.”

 

Read the full letter below.

 

April 18, 2018

 

The Honorable Seema Verma,

Administrator

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

7500 Security Boulevard

Baltimore, MD 21244

 

Dear Administrator Verma:

Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows states to waive certain parts of the law to pursue innovative models of health coverage for their citizens. While states may waive certain parts of the law, states must follow four guardrails which are outlined in the statute. Specifically, section 1332 states that a waiver application will be granted only if:

(1) a comparable number of the state’s residents will be covered,

(2) coverage is at least as affordable,

(3) coverage is at least as comprehensive,

(4) the plan will not increase the federal deficit as compared to existing law.

In 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance that sought to provide clarification for states as they pursued 1332 waivers. In practice, however, this sub-regulatory guidance has hindered, not helped, states’ efforts to design and implement innovative models of health coverage, as evidenced by the Iowa Stopgap Measure which was submitted and then withdrawn in 2017. Iowa decided to withdraw the 1332 waiver because of the inflexibility of this guidance. Unfortunately, without the necessary approval of the waiver request by CMS, Iowa’s individual market has continued to collapse.

We urge you to immediately rescind this guidance so that states like Iowa can truly innovate and bring stability and affordability to their markets. It is our belief that CMS has the authority to rescind this guidance. However, should you feel that statutory change is necessary, please indicate what part of the law requires statutory intervention as well as the rationale you have for the need for such a change.

Please respond to our offices no later than May 2, 2018.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Charles E. Grassley

United States Senator

 

Joni K. Ernst

United States Senator

 

Steve King

Member of Congress

 

David Young

Member of Congress

 

Rod L. Blum

Member of Congress