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Iowa insurance regulator proposes measure for 2018 health coverage

The Iowa Insurance Division has proposed a stopgap measure it says would ensure access to health insurance for the estimated 72,000 residents that are set to be uninsured in 2018.

The measure was proposed to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and is now awaiting federal approval. The measure would provide residents access to health insurance in 2018 across all 99 counties in Iowa, the regulator said in a statement.

Health insurers have fled Iowa's Affordable Care Act-related individual health insurance exchange, as they have in many other states. Iowa currently has no participating carriers lined up for 2018.

The measure was built through a partnership that included Iowa Insurance Division, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Medica, which was the most recent to express doubts about operating in Iowa in 2018. Residents would be provided with age- and income-based tax credits thanks to the measure, which would use a reinsurance option for expensive medical claims.

Under the measure, 2018 coverage would be guaranteed issue during open enrollment. The plans being offered would include all of the Affordable Care Act's essential health benefits, and any other benefits mandated by state law. Health coverage offered under this measure would have no annual and lifetime caps.

"The proposed stopgap measure is the only proposal ensuring that health insurance will be sold to those utilizing Iowa's individual market in all of Iowa's 99 counties in 2018," Doug Ommen, Iowa's insurance commissioner, said in a statement. "We are optimistic CMS will approve Iowa's stopgap measure, but without CMS approval, 72,000 Iowans will be uninsured."