WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin joined a group of five Democratic senators and one independent who are proposing a list repairs to the Affordable Care Act.
“We have to fix it, repair it. We’ve got to have insurance and we’ve got to have people healthier, but they have to be responsible (changes) too,” Manchin said on Thursday’s “The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson” on Fox News.
“We can’t force products into the market where the market is not going to accept them.”
Those making the proposals with Manchin (D-W.Va.) are senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Angus King (I-Maine).
“We’ve had some moderate, reasonable people who have sat down and we think we have an a lot of our Republican colleagues that will join us on this and these responsible changes,” said Manchin.
The proposals include:
— A bill to restore startup funds for new consumer-driven health insurance cooperatives, like those already operating in 23 states.
— Allowing state insurance regulators to develop models for selling health insurance across state lines.
— Providing a new lower-cost, high-deductible option called the Copper Plan to add to the existing Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze plans in the federal exchanges. The Copper Plan would still meet the ACA’s coverage requirements.
— Extending the Small Business Health Care Tax Credits and expand those credits to include businesses with fewer than 50 employees. The current cap is 25 employees.
— Expanding the option for voluntary coverage to employers with fewer than 100 employees.
— Streamlining and simplifying reporting requirements for healthcare coverage.
— A bill that would let family members working for the same business, on the same employer health plan, count as one full-time equivalent employee.
— Permanently allowing people to enroll for healthcare coverage through insurers or other certified web-based entities and not just healthcare.gov.
— Opening access to agents and brokers to assist with enrollment in healthcare plans on the ACA exchanges.
It was not immediately clear if U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would bring any or all of the proposals to the Senate floor. White House support for such changes is also questionable.
“I would hope they would look at the reasonable changes we’re trying to make that fits the American public,” said Manchin. “People do want health care, but they want affordable health care. They’d like to keep what they have. They’d like to be able to stay healthy, like to be able to have incentives and rewards.”
As of Thursday afternoon, federal officials said six million people had enrolled for healthcare coverage through the exchanges.
Monday is the deadline for enrollment, an ACA mandate, through www.healthcare.gov. Those who begin the enrollment process by March 31 will have additional time to complete that process because of a recently announced extension.