aside President Sabotages Obamacare As More Insurers Remain Part Of The ACA Marketplace

Image result for photo of roy mitchell mississippi health advocacy program
ROY MITCHELL

On September 28, 2017, the MSNBC TV host,  Ari Melber interviewed Roy Mitchell,  Executive Director of Mississippi Health Advocacy Program, who stated that while the republican President Donald Trump has been forecasting the failure of Obamacare, his HHS Secretary Tom Price has been working behind the scenes to sabotage it. The advertising budget to let consumers know about the future sign up dates and other pertinent information has been cut by 90%; the sign up enrollment time period has been cut back by 50%; and the budget for navigators to help explain to clients the different ACA policies has been cut by 60%. The president’s administration has even cancelled special events set up to explain the ACA to groups of peoples sponsored by non profit organizations.

Editorial cartoon on Republicans and health care

To make things worse, President Trump’s administration has indicated that the federal  exchange, HealthCare.gov, could be shut down during chunks of that time for maintenance.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been instructed by the president’s administration not to enforce the Obamacare mandate, where if potential customers opt out of signing up for health insurance, they will be charged a financial penalty.

With the above steps taken by the president’s White House, the prediction of Obamacare’s failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In addition, it seems that the republican legislators may have been overstating their case that numerous insurers would be opting out from being part of the ACA/ Affordable Care Act/ Obamacare marketplace, and that Obamacare was in a “death spiral.”  Obamacare does need fixing but the republicans’ predictions of its absolute failure may have been a bit premature.

Image result for photos of cigna headquarters
CIGNA

Here’s the rest of the story…

On September 27, 2017, Anna Wilde Matthews of the Wall Street Journal, “Health Insurers Stay in ACA Despite Fears of Last-Minute Exits.” 

Excerpts:

“Health insurers appeared likely to offer Affordable Care Act plans in all U.S. counties next year, despite months of drama and worries among some state officials about last-minute exits, ahead of a late-Wednesday (9/27/17) deadline.”

Editorial cartoon on Republicans and Obamacare repeal

“Some major insurers that had signaled that they might pull back, including Cigna Corp. , Health Care Service Corp., Molina Healthcare Inc., Highmark Health and Independence Blue Cross, this week said they would stick to the states and regions where they had filed to offer ACA coverage.”

“The final decisions of some insurers, including Centene Corp. , hadn’t been disclosed as of Wednesday evening, and there was still a risk that companies might make 11th-hour pullbacks.”

Editorial cartoon on Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal

“Wednesday’s (9/27/17) deadline to sign federal agreements to offer ACA plans marked the end of a months-long drama in many states. Insurers have repeatedly announced they would depart exchanges, and at various times as many as 145 counties, in states including Nevada, Ohio and Missouri, have appeared at risk of lacking a marketplace insurer for next year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. State officials scrambled to find replacements, and in many cases had to approve large rate increases for some insurers to stay.”

“Cigna earlier confirmed it would withdraw from Maryland’s exchange, but on Wednesday (9/27/17) said it would definitely continue offering ACA coverage in a half-dozen other states.”

“Molina will leave the exchanges in Utah and Wisconsin, as previously announced, but on Tuesday (9/26/17) said it would remain in seven other states where it sells ACA plans.”

Editorial cartoon on President Donald Trump and Obamacare

“Centene, which has said it plans to expand its role in the exchanges next year, didn’t respond Wednesday (9/27/17) to requests for comment about its final marketplace decisions. Centene is an increasingly important player in a number of states’ exchanges, and in some regions it is the only insurer planning to offer ACA coverage in 2018.”

“The number of insurers in many regions is expected to be thin. Roughly 50% of counties appeared likely to have just one exchange insurer next year, and 30% were projected to have two, according to a tally by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.”

Editorial cartoon on Republicans and health care
” To woo and keep insurers, state officials spent months negotiating, and in many cases they are approving substantial rate increases for next year that include extra boosts to insulate insurers from uncertainty about how the law will be administered.”

“For instance, Mississippi’s one exchange insurer was set to get a rate increase of a 47.4% on average, according to the state’s insurance commissioner. In Kentucky, Anthem Inc.’s rates will go up 41.2% and nonprofit CareSource’s rates will rise by 56%.”

Editorial cartoon on Mitch McConnell and health care

“Officials in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where Independence Blue Cross offers ACA plans, “have been very, very helpful and understanding around rate setting,” said Daniel J. Hilferty, the insurer’s chief executive. “We feel very good about the partnership we have with those two states.”

“The biggest issue for insurers is federal payments that reimburse companies for reducing the health-care costs of low-income ACA enrollees, which the Trump administration has threatened to halt. The potential loss of those payments was expected to add about 20% on average to the cost of middle-tier ACA silver plans, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.”

Editorial cartoon on Paul Ryan and Republicans and health care

“Insurers have also sought increases tied to the concern that the health law’s coverage mandate, which is supposed to prod healthy people to enroll in coverage, will be weakly enforced.”

“Insurers say that the rate increases, along with other factors like the perception of a weakened coverage mandate, carry a serious risk: There could be a drop in the number of enrollees, particularly the healthy ones whom insurers need to avoid a continuing cycle of rate increases. People whose incomes are too high to get federal premium subsidies may drop coverage or opt for cheaper, skinnier policies.”

“You need the healthy individuals to balance out your risk profile,” said Pamela Morris, chief executive of CareSource.”Editorial cartoon on Republicans and health care

“The Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement, “Insurers have been fleeing Obamacare’s individual market, leaving nearly half of our nation’s counties with only one coverage option. Americans are once again facing skyrocketing costs and plummeting choices because of Obamacare’s fundamental failures.”

“In deciding to remain in the exchanges, the insurers are keeping their hands in what some still hope will become a sustainable, profitable business. A Kaiser Family Foundation  analysis found insurers’ financial results on exchange plans improved in the first quarter of this year, a sign of potentially emerging stability.”

Editorial cartoon on Republicans and health care and Medicaid

“Alexis Miller, a Highmark senior vice president, said the company is projecting it will roughly break even on its exchange business next year, with rate increases that “mitigated to a good degree the risk that we believe to be the greatest.” Sticking with the exchanges helps Highmark’s relations with its customers and the states where it does business, she said, and gives it a voice as future changes are debated.”

“Next year will see a continued shift in which types of insurers are in the exchanges. The largest national players, such as UnitedHealth Group Inc., Aetna Inc., and Humana Inc., by next year will have almost completely abandoned the marketplaces.”

Editorial cartoon on Mitch McConnell and health care

“Another major national insurer, Anthem, said Wednesday (9/26/17) that it would leave Maine’s exchange next year.` Including Maine, Anthem has said it would exit exchanges in five states and pull back in an additional five. Anthem offered exchange plans in 14 states this year.”

“Filling the breach in some states that have seen insurers exit are Medicaid-focused insurers such as CareSource, Molina and Centene. Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers, most of which are nonprofits, remain the backbone of many marketplaces.”

10 comments

    • Dear Roger Williams,

      The kneeling story is a great distraction, isn’t it. The media jumps on the band wagon while there is this tête-à-tête going on between the president and Kim Jong-Un; the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico; the tax cuts that favor the president and other rich folks, his son-in-law’s expose about his personal email account and his HHS Sec Tom Price spending $400, 000 since May 2017 on unnecessary charter flights..etc., etc.

      All the president has to do is deflect by starting up another culture war. And it works, every single time!!!

      Hugs, Gronda

  1. Gronda, great and pertinent post. As we have written about, Trump and Price’s efforts to sabatoge the ACA are just more in a line of Republican sabatoging. The most indicting effort is defunding the risk corridors for adverse selection, which caused premiums to go up even more and insurers left the market.

    Yet, the 50+ repeal votes, 19 states not expanding Medicaid and generaj naysaying have all been hamstringing efforts. But, it is still here with all its imperfections. As an independent voter it still amazes me that so few people know the Republican Party has screwed Americans to win an argument. The White House incumbent is just continuing the process.

    As you and I know, this is not fake news and is unfortunately true. The sad truth is these legislators don’t care. After doesn’t with an aide for one of my Senators, I said please don’t send me a form letter. The letter arrived yesterday.

    Keith

    • Dear Keith,

      With all the republicans’ attempts to sabotage and kill this bill, it is amazing that the ACA is still viable, although, it admittedly does need fixing.

      I wonder if HHS Sec. Tom Price’s exit will make a difference?

      I am hoping that a bipartisan fix for the ACA will not be stymied.

      The press has covered how republicans sabotaged ACA by not funding risk corridors as required by the ACA bill, but the story simply has not had traction.

      Hugs, Gronda

      • Even if McConnell is pressured into acting, will Paul Ryan? I hear Paul Ryan say we need to work together after Steve Scalise was shot and when he returned, but Mr. Ryan the ball is in your hands. So, act like a leader and work with all members of the House.

  2. So, let me get this straight.
    The Republicans (in charge of admin) are willing to tie up the whole legislative programme over something which the majority of people do not want and is going to cause hardship to a substantial number of the population….
    For no good reason?

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