Charlottesville group lobbying changes to health insurance rules

Charlottesville group lobbying changes to health insurance rules
Medical facility (FILE) (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A group of health insurance advocates in Charlottesville is taking their fight to Richmond.

Charlottesville for Reasonable Health Insurance (CRHI) teamed up with 25th District Senator Creigh Deeds for a new bill. The legislation would prevent insurance companies from filing two narrow network plans at the Silver level. The narrow network plans are often cheaper as they provide less coverage overall.

“It is standard in the [Affordable Care Act], that the second-cheapest silver plan is the benchmark plan,” CRHI Co-founder Sara Stovall explained.

Sara Stovall
Sara Stovall (Source: WVIR)

The benchmark determines how much money will be given out to families qualifying for monetary subsidies.

In 2020, Optima Health - owned by Sentara - had filed two narrow-network insurance plans at the silver level, and both we're the cheapest plans compared to the competition, Anthem. Thus, Optima set the benchmark for subsidies.

As a result many families may have to pay more money out-of-pocket to keep their Anthem plan, though the rates for that plan had not drastically changed. The alternative, Stovall said, would be to go with a less expensive plan from Optima, though it may not cover UVA or other providers.

“All we’re trying to do is prevent subsidies from being based on a narrow-network plan. It doesn’t make sense for subsidies to be based on a plan that only covers 15 percent of providers,” Stovall said. “Senate Bill 1047 says that an insurance company cannot have two narrow-network plans at the silver level if one of them is the benchmark.”

The bill is set to go before the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee on Monday, February 10. Several members of CRHI plan to travel up to the state capital to speak on behalf of the bill. If passed, it will then move to Virginia Senate floor for a vote.

Copyright 2020 WVIR. All rights reserved.