The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association submitted a legislative proposal on Thursday designed to stabilize the Affordable Care Act exchanges. The suggestions focus on expanding eligibility for tax subsidies and encouraging younger consumers to sign up for coverage.

“We think this is a pragmatic, incremental step,” said Justine Handelman, the association’s senior vice president in the Office of Policy and Representation. “We believe it’s important to build on what’s working.

The proposal asks Congress to:

  • Add age as a factor for determining eligibility for premium tax subsidies.
  • Ensure that higher-income enrollees do not pay more than 12% of their income on premiums.
  • Resume cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurers.
  • Allow people who earn between 200 percent and 300 percent of the federal poverty level to have 80 percent of their healthcare costs paid from CSR funds.
  • Delay the resumption of the health insurance tax scheduled for next year.
  • Increase outreach funding for the open enrollment period from $10 million per year to $160 per year.

The association says that the plan would lower premiums by an average of 33 percent and increase enrollment by 4.2 million consumers, but cost more than $10 billion annually.