Health insurers across the country are making plans to dramatically raise Obamacare premiums or exit marketplaces amid growing exasperation with the Trump administration’s erratic management, inconsistent guidance and seeming lack of understanding of basic healthcare issues.
At the same time, state insurance regulators — both Democrat and Republican — have increasingly concluded they cannot count on the Trump administration to help them ensure that consumers will have access to a health plan next year.
The growing frustration with the Trump administration’s management — reflected in letters to state regulators and in interviews with more than two dozen senior industry and government officials nationwide — undercuts a key White House claim that Obamacare insurance marketplaces are collapsing on their own.
Instead, according to many officials, it is the Trump administration that is driving much of the current instability by refusing to commit to steps to keep markets running, such as funding aid for low-income consumers or enforcing penalties for people who go without insurance.
All the Trump regime has to do is yell "Oh well, death spiral lol" at the press while this is going on and poof, Obamacare is a "failure" that has no choice but to be completely repealed by whatever Republican plan happens to be available. And Republicans fully expect Democrats, health care advocates, health insurers, medical groups, and hospitals to go along with the plan or else.
And why go to all this trouble? Obamacare was actually working so it has to be destroyed.
The uncertainty created by Trump comes as some Obamacare markets were beginning to stabilize, according to many industry and government officials. In several states, insurers and regulators noted that 2017 was shaping up to be a better year than the first several years of the marketplaces.
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.”
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.”
Many state insurance regulators are similarly dismayed by the Trump administration’s actions, which Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler compared to playing Russian roulette with Americans’ health insurance coverage.
“It’s ludicrous,” said Kreidler, who is a Democrat. “This has real impact on people’s lives.”
But Trump wrecked this on purpose, and with purpose, to leave no choice but Trumpcare.
In Colorado, where most consumers continue to have multiple insurance choices, commissioner Marguerite Salazar said the Trump administration threatens the whole market. “My fear is it may collapse,” she said.
Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, a Republican, is so concerned the turmoil will drive away insurers that he’s exploring whether the state can make available limited benefit insurance plans as a stopgap.
The plans would likely cap medical care and prescription drug coverage. But Chaney said, “It would be better than nothing.”
Insurance industry officials and state regulators have met repeatedly in recent months with senior Trump administration officials in an effort to explain that administration’s actions are jeopardizing health coverage for millions of Americans.
But in many cases, the meetings only left insurers and regulators more confused about the administration’s plans, according to attendees.
At one recent meeting, Seema Verma, whom Trump picked to oversee the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs, stunned insurance industry officials by suggesting a bargain: The administration would fund the CSRs if insurers supported the House Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
You get your money for providing health insurance exchange plans if you back our bill that would destroy health insurance exchanges and basically everything else. Fun, huh?
For years Republicans have said that the whole point of Obamacare was a plan to make the health care system so "broken" that it would collapse and the Democrats would replace it with single-payer, a public option, or Medicare for all.
Instead, Republicans really are trying to collapse Obamacare to force a system that would end health insurance for tens of millions and care for tens of millions more. It's always projection. Any time a Republican is accusing the Democrats of doing something horrible, it's because Republicans are planning to do it ASAP.