Hultgren Supports Legislation to Ease Financial Burdens on Land of Lincoln Plan-Holders
Washington, DC — U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (IL-14) cosponsored and voted in favor of the CO-OP Consumer Protection Act, which passed the House of Representatives today. H.R. 954 provides a temporary exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate for individuals who were enrolled in a Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) that failed. Should these consumers decide to forego coverage for the rest of the year, they would not be subject to the individual mandate penalty. This measure would affect a large group of Americans—including 50,000 Illinoisans—in the 17 ACA CO-OPs that were liquidated.
“I have heard heart-wrenching stories from families in the 14th District who have loved ones with cancer and other complex conditions who are now left without a health plan,” said Rep. Hultgren. “To make matters worse, any other plan they enroll in on the Illinois exchange gives them not just a narrower provider network, but a totally different one. They are left in a financially vulnerable, rushed and confusing position as they have to navigate a drastically changed exchange and costs for out-of-network care.”
In July Illinois’s CO-OP, the Land of Lincoln Mutual Health Insurance Company, began the process of liquidation after it was left with a $70 million shortfall related to the federal Risk Corridor Program. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services intended to sponsor these CO-OPs to increase competition in the exchange market; only six of the original 23 plans remain. Individual market exchanges in Illinois and across the country next year will continue on a path of limited options, narrow or completely different provider networks, and higher premium costs and deductibles.
“While this bill is not the solution to the ACA’s worsening problems, exemption from the individual mandate stops the federal government from financially punishing consumers for not having health coverage after their ACA CO-OP fell apart,” said Rep. Hultgren. “While we work on a more comprehensive solution to the ACA’s myriad of problems, the least we can do is offer these men and women some financial relief.”