Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen.

Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen says he’s changed his feeling about the prospect that federal regulators will approve his plan to help thousands of Iowans keep health care coverage next year. Ommen said last week that he was growing “less optimistic” about approval.

“A little over a week or so ago I was starting to be a little bit concerned — but since that time we’ve had some really good communication with the federal government and the Trump Administration. So, we are very, very optimistic we will receive approval,” Ommen says.

His stop-gap plan tries to help 72,000 Iowans by getting a waiver so the Affordable Care Act subsidies can be used to younger, healthier people to help them buy insurance. And the plan would send some of the subsidies directly to insurance companies to cover the costs of treatment for seriously ill customers. Ommen says the state has now received a letter of completeness from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“And what that does is it begins the process of the federal comment period and allows citizens to submit their thoughts and opinions with regards to that measure,” Ommen explains. He hopes Iowans will speak out and let the federal government know they need the plan.

Ommen says it allows 30 days for people to give their opinion. “We had a comment period under state law as well and received a lot of very positive feedback,” Ommen says. “We look forward to moving through that process and getting that approval.” Ommen says the Insurance Division will move ahead with setting up the stopgap plan.

“We’re not going to wait until we get the final approval from the United States because this is really important for Iowa,” Ommen says. “I’ve compared those rates that were submitted under the ACA and I’ve looked at what it is that is available to Iowans under the stopgap — and frankly the right answer for Iowa in 2018 will be the stopgap measure.”

Just one company plans to offer individual policies in 2018 through the Affordable Care Act exchange. Enrollment for 2018 policies on the exchange begins November 1st.