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News Tuesday, May 30 2017

Insurance Companies Call Out Trump Administration's Health Care Sabotage, Echo CBO

May 30, 2017

Executives from insurance companies covering millions of Americans are calling out the Trump administration for intentionally sabotaging health care markets and causing premium costs to rise by double digits for working families.  Threatening ACA cost-sharing subsidies that are critical to 7 million Americans affording health insurance is just the latest in purposely destructive actions from an Administration that is doing everything they can to undermine existing insurance marketplaces to try and force Trumpcare on the country.

BlueCross BlueShield North Carolina CEO Brad Wilson and J. Mario Malina, the former CEO of Molina Healthcare, today echoed the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s determination that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces are stabilizing and that the Trump Administration’s actions to undermine those marketplaces are the primary source of the volatility that is leading to rate hike requests and insurer withdrawals.  Other industry leaders have made similar appeals urging the Trump Administration to stop aggravating this instability.

Trump himself has said that his threat to cut-off cost-sharing subsidies is a political ploy to force passage of Trumpcare, which would cost 23 million Americans their health insurance, gut coverage for preexisting conditions like heart disease, and slash Medicaid funding by over $800 billion in order to substantially cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans – including Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump is manufacturing a crisis for working families that’s going to result in higher premiums and deductibles. Now even insurance industry leaders confirm what we’ve known all along: he’s sabotaging the ACA just so he can force Trumpcare on the country and cut taxes for the rich,” said American Bridge spokesperson Andrew Bates. 


Health Insurance Leaders 

Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina CEO Brad Wilson: “The information we’ve seen coming from the administration actually creates more uncertainty rather than creating greater certainty…The last thing I saw was the president has said he intends to make available the CSR money through May 2017. That is good news. We’re grateful for that assurance. What is not said is what about June through December. There’s a big void.” [Vox, 5/30/2017]

Former Molina Healthcare CEO J. Mario Molina, M.D.: “Since Trump took office in January, these kinds of sneak attacks on the law have accelerated. During the final week of the open enrollment period, when consumers can sign up for a marketplace health care plan or choose a new one, Trump officials within the Department of Health and Human Services decided to cancel advertising and outreach for the website.” [U.S. News & World Report, 5/30/2017]

  • Former Molina Healthcare CEO J. Mario Molina, M.D.: “Perhaps the most drastic way that the Trump administration is sabotaging American’s health insurance is by refusing to commit to reimbursing health plans for the cost-sharing reduction payments they make to lower out-of-pocket costs for their lowest income members.” [U.S. News & World Report, 5/30/2017]

America’s Health Insurance Plans, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, et al. in Letter to Donald Trump: “A critical priority is to stabilize the individual health insurance market. The window is quickly closing to properly price individual insurance products for 2018. The most critical action to help stabilize the individual market for 2017 and 2018 is to remove uncertainty about continued funding for cost sharing reductions (CSRs)….We urge the Administration and Congress to take quick action to ensure CSRs are funded. “​ [America’s Health Insurance Plans, 4/12/2017]

Los Angeles Times: “[Tennessee Blue Cross Blue Shield Chief Executive J.D.] Hickey warned in the letter that “potential negative effects of federal legislative and/or regulatory changes,” including not paying CSRs or enforcing the mandate, would require the Tennessee plan “to price-in those downside risks.”” [Los Angeles Times, 5/22/2017]

Congressional Budget Office 
Congressional Budget Office: “The subsidies to purchase coverage, combined with the effects of the individual mandate, which requires most individuals to obtain insurance or pay a penalty, are anticipated to cause sufficient demand for insurance by enough people, including people with low health care expenditures, for the market to be stable in most areas.” [Congressional Budget Office, 5/24/2017]


Health Insurance Leaders 

Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina CEO Brad Wilson: “We undertake a year-by-year analysis of whether or not we can stay in the market. 2017 is so far, so good. It’s still early and our numbers for the year run about 30 to 45 days behind. But the analysis underway so far in 2017 appears to show stability in the market in terms of price, utilization, and the customer base.” [Vox, 5/30/2017]

Former Molina Healthcare CEO J. Mario Molina, M.D.: “When confronted with the dire projections about how their bill will make insurance unaffordable for their constituents, most of the representatives who voted for the bill often echo a line that Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price and Trump have used repeatedly: that the Affordable Care Act is in a so-called ‘death spiral’ that will inevitably ‘explode,’ so they need to pass a bill, no matter how terrible, before it does. That narrative is patently false. In fact, most of the instability driving up premiums in the marketplace can be directly traced to Republicans’ efforts to undermine the health care law for their own political purposes.” [U.S. News & World Report, 5/30/2017]

Los Angeles Times: “Tennessee Blue Cross Blue Shield Chief Executive J.D. Hickey reported in a letter to that state’s insurance commissioner this month that ‘our 2017 performance has improved due to a combination of better claims experience and more sustainable rate structure.'” [Los Angeles Times, 5/22/2017]

Congressional Budget Office 

Congressional Budget Office: “Several factors could lead insurers to withdraw from the market—including lack of profitability and substantial uncertainty about enforcement of the individual mandate and about future payments of the cost-sharing subsidies to reduce out-of-pocket payments for people who enroll in nongroup coverage through the marketplaces established by the ACA.” [Congressional Budget Office, 5/24/2017]

Published: May 30, 2017

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