(LifeZette) With health care reform stalled in the Senate, Anthem announced Tuesday that it will be exiting Ohio’s exchange, leaving roughly 20 of the state’s counties without any insurers.
Anthem, the country’s second-largest health insurance provider, has announced its plan to withdraw from Ohio entirely by 2018, citing its concerns over the tenuous fate of both Obamacare and the House GOP’s American Health Care Act in the Senate.
“The individual market remains volatile, and the lack of certainty of funding for cost-sharing reduction subsidies, the restoration of taxes on fully insured coverage and, an increasing lack of overall predictability simply does not provide a sustainable path forward to provide affordable plan choices for consumers,” Anthem said in a statement Tuesday.
Although Anthem promised that it would “re-evaluate whether a more robust presence in the exchange is appropriate in the future,” the insurer lamented the toll the current health care climate has taken on its business and the economy at large.
“As the individual marketplace continues to evolve, we look forward to seeing important changes made to the health care law,” the statement continued. “We hope these changes will stabilize the market and allow us to have a more robust presence in the future.”
Ed Haislmaier, a senior research fellow in health policy studies at the Heritage Foundation, urged the Senate to move swiftly in working with the House GOP’s American Health Care Act and relieve the increasing burdens Americans are carrying as Obamacare continues to collapse.
Dr. Ramin Oskoui, a cardiologist who was named “physician of the year” in 2015 at Sibley Memorial Hospital, told LifeZette that “Anthem’s quit is illustrative of how increased government control has actually resulted in less competition and greater costs because it hasn’t really addressed why health care is expensive, which is ultimately because of a lack of a free market.”
During the press briefing Tuesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer raised the issue of Anthem’s departure from the Obamacare exchange.
“I mentioned before that a third of the counties have only one provider in Obamacare. The average individual premiums have increased 105 percent on average from 2013 to 2017,” Spicer noted. “And just today, Anthem — the only statewide insurer left in the state of Ohio — announced it will be pulling out of every county’s Obamacare exchange, leaving 19,000 Ohioans without any options.”
“The American people have been saddled with the bill for Washington’s inability to get this disaster taken care of, and it’s simply not right for them to have to pay it any longer,” Spicer added. “It’s time for us to provide them with the choice and control that all Americans want over their own health care.”
Noting that President Donald Trump held two bicameral meetings with Republican members of Congress Tuesday to discuss the future of his legislative agenda and the need for swift action on health care and tax reform, Spicer pointedly admonished Congress for stalling so long on health care reform.
“Now that [Congress is] back from Memorial Day recess, we really look forward to carrying on with the agenda,” Spicer said, adding, “we just don’t have time to waste.”
Oskoui blasted Republicans in Congress for dropping the ball on Trump’s legislative agenda.
“They have everything they could dream of — a majority in the House, the Senate and the presidency — but they can’t execute because when it comes to actually putting together a real bill as opposed to a show bill that they can wave dramatically in front of their voters, they’re unwilling to come together,” Oskoui said.
“This is a problem for the Republicans, but particularly for Trump, because if they don’t fix health care now and people keep suffering and the economy keeps stagnating … there’s not going to be any tax reform,” Oskoui warned.
Haislmaier recommended that Congress members “point to the people who are the traditional self-employed people in the individual markets who are now losing coverage” as they strategize and unify their messaging.
“I mean, this is sort of the tipping point at which Obamacare went from covering the uninsured to uninsuring the insured,” Haislmaier said. “[The senators] need to focus on the people who are the drive-by shooting victims of Obamacare, if you will — the people in the individual and small-employer markets who have seen their costs go up, their deductibles go up, their choices in coverage go down, and they’ve gotten nothing positive out of this legislation.”
As for the GOP senators themselves, several have expressed their gloomy predictions concerning their efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare — especially since the AHCA neither completely satisfied their most conservative members nor their most moderate members.
“We’re stuck. We can’t get there from here,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters Tuesday. “I’m very leery of a health care bill passing the Senate that can get through the House.”
“We need to bring this to an end and move to taxes,” Graham added. “A lot of the blame is on the Congress here.”
Oskoui agreed that Congress bears the blame for the health care reform halt in the Senate and the unsatisfactory bill that originated from the House.
“The AHCA is arranging the deck chairs on the financial Titanic,” Oskoui warned. “The Republicans deserve to own all of this. They had six years to plan, and they just never expected that Trump would actually win. Because they never really wanted him to win. They wanted to play the victims to the Democrats and have a lot of showboats.”
Saying that he doubts whether congressional Republicans really have “any interest in the status quo changing,” Oskoui lamented that “slow-rolling Trump and his ‘Mr. Smith Comes to Washington’ disruptive initiatives” allows that “the status quo survives another day.”
“Republicans aren’t willing to make real change,” Oskoui said. “People voted Trump into office because they wanted real change in Washington. They’re tired of the corruption. They’re tired of the lack of the rule of law.”
“[Trump] hasn’t been able to deliver on this, and I think ultimately what you may see happen is a slight gain for Democrats,” Oskoui warned. “I think that the status quo is winning and I think they’re basically slow-rolling this.”
But Republicans are losing the messaging war as Democrats have proceeded to unify around their “people will die” doomsday theme, Haislmaier warned.
“And the Left’s response is, ‘Keep everything in place. Just throw more regulation, more tax dollars at it,'” Haislmaier noted. “And the alternative the Republicans have to decide and be forthright about is to say, ‘No, we need to unwind this and be more sensible about this. We need to stop letting the federal government micromanage everything.’ And so, that’s what they have to message.”
Republished with permission from LifeZette via iCopyright license.