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Small-group insurance market expansion in play

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The National Journal reports that Republicans might get a chance this fall  to overturn the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of the small-group insurance market — and  that President Obama might go along with the change.

A deadline looms:  The ACA mandate that states  widen the definition of their small-group markets from employers with 50 or fewer employees to 100 or fewer is supposed to start to take effect in some states on Jan. 1. But legislation, The National Journal says, “would end that requirement,  leaving the definition at the historical norm of 50 while letting states set it higher….”

Timothy Jost, a healthcare expert at Washington and Lee University, noted  to the magazine some potential problems if the change  were made. The magazine paraphrased him as saying that “While prices might go down for the 50-and-under businesses as their market grew, the 51-to-100 businesses would almost certainly see their prices go up. They would be moving from the more stable and typically less expensive large-group plans to the small-group setting. The small-group market is also subject to some Obamacare rules, such as covering certain essential health benefits, that the large-group market is not. Some estimates have projected that costs would actually increase for everybody.”

Still, “{o]f all the {ACA} ‘fix’ bills floating around the Capitol, the small-group provision might have the most working in its favor: It has bipartisan support, costs little to nothing to change, and even some Obamacare supporters say the law could function fine with the alteration,” the magazine reported.

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