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House committee to consider ACA revisions

House Republicans have introduced several healthcare bills that would revise coverage terms for some people who enroll in public exchanges as the GOP leadership considers ways to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

One measure would require people who sign up outside of the annual open enrollment period to verify they have met special enrollment verification before their plans take effect. Special enrollment periods have granted applicants presumptive eligibility, leading to risk imbalance and potential abuse, one Congressional committee memo stated.

Another bill would reduce the grace period to 30 days from three months that subsidized enrollees have to pay their health insurance premium, or allow states to set the grace period. A memo for the House panel set to take up the bills cited a report that 21% of consumers stopped paying premiums in 2015, then rejoined in 2016. Nearly half signed up for a plan they quit, according to the memo.

A third piece of legislation would loosen the ACA restriction from charging enrollees according to age. It would set a 5-to-1 aging ratio, meaning the most generous plan could cost 5x more than the least generous plan, according to age. The ACA set the ratio at 3-to-1. One bill would ensure that people with pre-existing conditions would continue to receive coverage.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has scheduled a Feb. 2 hearing on the bills.