Federal regulators have given a preliminary green light to Iowa’s proposed “stopgap measure” for insurers to offer individual policies in the state next year. 

The Iowa Insurance Division said it received a letter of completeness today from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the proposal, which moves it forward toward final approval. 

“We appreciate the Trump administration’s commitment to state flexibility and providing relief from the ACA,” Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen said in a release. “We look forward to swift approval by the administration after the federal comment period closes so the Iowa Stopgap Measure can be ready for the 2018 open enrollment period starting Nov. 1, 2017.”

The Iowa Stopgap Measure, designed as short-term relief following an exodus of carriers from the individual market in the state, would provide consumers with age- and income-based premium credits while using a reinsurance mechanism to keep premium costs down. More than 20,000 Iowa residents may be unable to purchase individual coverage in the state unless the measure is approved, Ommen estimates. 

Medica, Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Wellmark Value and Wellmark Synergy have all submitted forms and rates to offer plans through the Iowa Stopgap Measure, the insurance division said. Iowans in all 99 counties would have access to at least one carrier through the measure. 

Once the Iowa Stopgap Measure is approved by the federal government, Iowans will be able to complete the eligibility application. After the state has confirmed eligibility, the individuals will purchase a plan under the Iowa Stopgap Measure directly from a carrier offering a plan in their county.

The CMS letter starts a 30-day comment period. Comments regarding the Iowa Stopgap Measure can be sent to CMS Administrator Seema Verma and Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight Director Randy Pate by email; include "Iowa Section 1332 Waiver Comments" in the subject heading.