Lawmakers renew call to allow third party assistance for ACA policyholders

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) renewed his call on Wednesday for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to allow charities to help low-income patients pay medical bills under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Cassidy and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) sent a letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner urging her to prevent insurance companies from prohibiting third-party non-profit groups from assisting those who are unable to afford healthcare under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“By not allowing third-party payments, the government is interfering with America’s rich tradition of allowing charitable organizations to care for those who are less fortunate,” Cassidy said. “Outside help, when available, should be welcomed. A side effect of Obamacare (is that) many vulnerable Louisianans are worried about how they are going to pay for healthcare. The Obama administration needs to address the issue, not spin it for political purposes.”

Current law allows payments from third-party non-profit groups for Medicare but not for some health plans that are purchased in the ACA’s online healthcare exchanges.

“Obamacare is hurting all Louisianians, but preventing charities from helping offset these rising costs directly targets our lowest income, most vulnerable patient populations,” Vitter said. “The Obama administration is trying to walk back its stance, but in reality this doesn’t change anything. It’s just another political stunt.”

Cassidy and Vitter first petitioned Tavenner to allow non-profit assistance to low-income policyholders in May. CMS said non-profit groups could provide assistance to patients who were enrolled in qualified plans, but Cassidy said that doesn’t match the current standard for Medicare.