Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday debuted the state's plan to cut health insurance premiums for people who buy coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
The plan—Georgia Access—aims to reduce insurance premiums by creating a reinsurance program. And it would allow state residents to buy coverage through the website of a broker or insurer instead of using Healthcare.gov.
Kemp said that people in his state agree that "insurance premiums are too dang high" and that "hundreds of thousands of families will see a reduction in their premiums" under the plan.
Statewide premiums will drop 10% in 2021, according to Ryan Loke, who works on special projects for the governor.
Georgia Access would let business owners help their employees pay for coverage purchased through the Obamacare marketplaces. It would also encourage more people to buy association health plans that cover preexisting conditions.
The state is seeking a 1332 waiver from the CMS to move forward. Under the ACA, the CMS can grant waivers to states that allow them to change Obamacare requirements related to the individual and small group insurance markets. States can use them to tackle weak insurance markets, fix state-specific insurance issues or test different ways to provide coverage.
The CMS has approved waivers for 13 states, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Over the past year, the Trump administration has eased waiver requirements for states and asked them to help the government develop new waiver concepts. So far, 12 of 13 approved waivers are for reinsurance programs like the one Georgia is pursuing.
Reinsurance programs use government funds to help pay the costs insurers take on for people with high medical bills. This lets payers lower premiums because they know that they'll get help footing the bill for costly beneficiaries.
Republicans have long supported association health plans because they offer consumers lower premiums. But many policy experts argue that insurers can provide low premiums because the plans cover less and don't include the same consumer protections as Obamacare plans. Association health plans can also weaken the individual market if younger, healthier consumers choose them over plans offered on the exchanges.
Georgia Access tries to address some of the coverage concerns by making sure that the alternative plans cover preexisting conditions.
The state will likely release its Medicaid plans next week.