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As Insurance Companies Cite “Policies Advocated By The Trump Administration,” Virginians Face Republican-Inflicted Rate Hikes

By May 7, 2018No Comments

On Friday, preliminary Virginia rate filings for 2019 individual-market health insurance indicated a potential double-digit average premium increase due to Washington Republicans’ repeal-and-sabotage agenda. What’s behind this spike? In the words of the insurance companies themselves, “policies advocated by the Trump Administration” are driving the increases. It’s the latest consequence of the GOP’s repeal-and-sabotage campaign. Here’s some early coverage:

Senators Mark Warner And Tim Kaine: “These Proposed Price Increases Are A Painful Consequence Of The Trump Administration’s Efforts To Sabotage The Health Insurance Market And Dismantle The Affordable Care Act.” “These proposed price increases are a painful consequence of the Trump Administration’s efforts to sabotage the health insurance market and dismantle the Affordable Care Act. After a series of unsuccessful attempts to repeal the ACA, President Trump and Republicans in Congress settled for taking actions that will increase premium costs for American families, something even Trump’s former HHS Secretary admitted this week. Now, their irresponsible games are hurting Virginians by making it harder for families to afford health care. We hope our colleagues will take this seriously and pass bipartisan legislation to stabilize the market and make sure Virginians have affordable options for health insurance in 2019.” [Senator Tim Kaine, 5/4]

Rep. Don Beyer: “This Is A Scandal And A Disgrace And Virginians Are Going To Be Hurt Very Badly.” “Awful healthcare news for Virginia. Last year we stopped Trump/GOP attempts to repeal the ACA and strip health insurance from 23 million people. They responded by sabotaging the healthcare system. We just learned that this is going to cause Virginians’ premiums to skyrocket. ‘Skyrocket’ = double-digit increases, up to 64%, depending on your insurer and plan. There is no way to sugarcoat these health insurance premium hikes: they are across different insurers, they are devastating, and many will not be able to afford them. Why is this happening? The insurers themselves attribute it to Republican actions… This is a scandal and a disgrace and Virginians are going to be hurt very badly, especially those who can least afford it. It is so infuriating… Congress must act immediately to undo the Trump/GOP sabotage and take steps to rein in costs. It is still possible to help if we work together for solutions. Right now this is awful news for Virginians, but we will not be the only ones. Americans in other states will feel the same pain of health premium increases, and some may get hit even harder. The GOP did this on purpose. They have to let us fix it.” [Twitter, 5/4]

Virginian-Pilot: “Cigna And CareFirst Said Trump Administration Policies, Including The Repeal Of The Individual Mandate, Led To The Proposed Increases.” “Two of the insurance companies that participate in Affordable Care Act exchanges in Virginia are seeking clearance for large increases in premiums for next year…  Cigna and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield are two of seven insurers that offer policies under what is known as Obamacare… Cigna and CareFirst said Trump administration policies, including the repeal of the individual mandate, led to their proposed increases. Cigna said it anticipates sicker people entering the market, a result of the individual mandate being repealed. Cigna also cited ‘anticipated changes to regulations’ involving short-term plans and association health plans as a reason for the requests.” [Virginian-Pilot, 5/4]

The Hill: Insurers “Cited Policies Advocated By The Trump Administration” As Justification For Increases. “Two of Virginia’s ObamaCare insurers are requesting significant premium hikes for 2019, according to initial filings released Friday. Both Cigna and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield cited policies advocated by the Trump administration, including the repeal of ObamaCare’s individual mandate, as part of its justifications for the increases… The pro-ObamaCare group Protect Our Care Campaign was quick to attack the administration following the news. ‘Until we stop Republicans’ war on health care, health care experts predict that rates will keep rising by double digits,’ said the group’s director, Brad Woodhouse. ‘D.C. Republicans should start working on bipartisan solutions to make coverage more affordable, instead of helping their friends in the insurance industry make another buck on the backs of hardworking Virginians.’” [The Hill, 5/4]

Fierce Healthcare: Premiums Could Rise 64% “And Insurers Are Blaming President Donald Trump And Congressional Republicans.” “Premium increases for exchange plans could swell as much as 64% in Virginia next year if proposed rate hikes hold up. And insurers are blaming President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans. According to preliminary filings submitted on Friday, two of Virginia’s largest ACA insurers, Cigna and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, are requesting significant premium hikes for next year in response to planned policy changes by the Trump administration and the GOP’s repeal of the individual mandate… The insurers cited repeal of the individual mandate and ‘anticipated changes to regulations’ to short-term health plans as reasons for the drastic increases. Congressional Republicans repealed the mandate last year as part of its tax overhaul, and the Trump administration has moved to extend the short-term health plan duration to 12 months. Both policies are projected to drive younger, healthier people from the markets, raising premiums for those who remain.” Fierce Healthcare, 5/6]

Politico: “This Time It’s Democrats Taking Advantage Of The Proposed Spikes To Blame President Donald Trump And Hill Republicans, Arguing They Have Taken Several Actions That Will Destabilize Insurance Markets.” “The initial glimpse of premium increases is predictably prompting political jockeying that will continue throughout the summer and fall as officials finalize next year’s prices. Unlike prior years, this time it’s Democrats taking advantage of the proposed spikes to blame President Donald Trump and Hill Republicans, arguing they have taken several actions that will destabilize insurance markets.” [Politico, 5/7]

Andy Slavitt, Former Acting CMS Administrator: “Trump Is Giving Insurance Companies Unfettered Ability To Charge What They Want, Deny What They Want, Cover What They Want, And Make Unlimited Profits.” [Twitter, 5/5]

Larry Levitt, Kaiser Family Foundation: “With Insurers Now Mostly Profitable In The ACA Individual Insurance Market, I Would Have Expected Single-Digit Premium Increases For 2019 Reflecting Health Cost Growth. With Repeal Of The Individual Mandate And Expansion Of  Short-Term Plans, Double-Digit Hikes Are Now Likely.” [Twitter, 5/7]

Joe Scarborough: “This Is A Coming Sign Of The Times That Will Haunt A Republican Party That Sabotaged America’s Health Care System Instead Of Replacing Or Reforming It.” [Twitter, 5/6]

Charles Gaba, ACA Signups: “For Anyone Who Doesn’t Believe The Latest Batch Of [Sabotage] By Trump Isn’t Gonna Jack Rates Up Next Year, I’ve Already Got Receipts Out Of Virginia.” [Twitter, 5/6]

Jon Favreau: “Enjoy Premium Hikes Of 64%, Brought To You By Republican Control Of Washington. And That Number Will Climb Even Higher If Republicans Keep Congress And Continue To Sabotage The Affordable Care Act In 2019.” [Twitter, 5/4]

David Certner, AARP: “Steps Could (And Should) Have Been Taken This Past Year To Hold Down Health Care Premiums. Instead, The Reverse Has Happened, And Now Insurers In Virginia Propose Major Premium Hikes For 2019.” [Twitter, 5/6]