Rep. Judy Chu

Rep. Judy Chu, whose 27th Congressional District includes South Pasadena, was among the sponsors this week of the “Individual Health Insurance Marketplace Improvement Act” — aimed at helping reduce premiums for people who do not get their health insurance through an employer.

The bill would improve the stability of individual health-insurance markets by creating a permanent program to reduce the impacts of larger-than-expected health insurance claims, her office said in a release.

“While Republicans try to tear down the Affordable Care Act, leaving millions of Americans vulnerable to illness and bankruptcy, we are working to strengthen and improve it,” Chu said.

“Our legislation will buttress insurers and guarantee that all Americans are able to cover the costs of their healthcare without crippling premiums. This is better for families, for the healthcare markets, and for our economy.”

The market stabilization program established by the Individual Health Insurance Marketplace Improvement Act is designed after a similar program within Medicare Part D that has been successful in fostering competition among insurers, reducing premiums, and expanding access to care, Chu’s office said.

The program would assist insurers facing higher-than-average claims by providing federal funds to offset a portion of the cost.

Federal funding would cover 80 percent of claims between $50,000 and $450,000 from 2020 to 2022. After 2022, 80 percent of claims between $100,000 and $400,000 would be covered by federal funds.

Additionally, the bill will encourage new enrollment in qualified health plans by providing $500 million per year from 2020 to 2022 to raise awareness of premium assistance programs through increased public outreach. This funding will be prioritized for regions of the country with a lack of competition within the individual marketplace.

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