Julie Hagenbuch: Improve, rather than undermine, ACA | SteamboatToday.com

Julie Hagenbuch: Improve, rather than undermine, ACA







Healthcare is now in the hands of the Republican-led government. The Affordable Care Act is not exploding, imploding or self-destructing. This government and insurance companies are attempting to undermine it.

The attempt to undermine the ACA began in 2015, when U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz took on the "risk corridors." According to the New York Times, "The risk corridors were intended to help some insurance companies if they ended up with too many new sick people on their rolls and too little cash from premiums to cover their medical bills in the first three years under the health law. But, because of Mr. Rubio's efforts, the administration says it will pay only 13 percent of what insurance companies were expecting to receive this year. The payments were supposed to help insurers cope with the risks they assumed when they decided to participate in the law's new insurance marketplaces."

This caused several insurance companies to leave the exchanges for 2017 and caused the massive premium increase. Fortunately, subsidies similarly increased.

One of the main challenges to ACA stability is acceptance. I was hoping we had that when House Speaker Paul Ryan declared that ACA would be the law of the land for the foreseeable future. But, when our current president threatens not to remit the tax credit payments to the insurance companies, it causes fear in the marketplace. Even if withholding payment is not within presidential power, just the threat of nonpayment causes fear for my neighbors, my family and me.

In addition, the insurance executives have massive incentives to merge with other insurance companies. When a $131 million enticement is dangled in front of a CEO, the CEO will quit the ACA exchanges, even if it is not in the best interest of the company, let alone the patients.

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From CNN money: "U.S. District Judge John Bates concluded this week that Aetna’s real motivation for dropping Obamacare coverage in several states was 'specifically to evade judicial scrutiny' over its merger with Humana. But Bates said this week the DOJ presented “persuasive support” — including internal Aetna emails — for the conclusion that Aetna withdrew from the Obamacare exchanges in those counties 'to improve its litigation position.'"

“The court does not credit the minimal efforts of Aetna executives to claim otherwise,” Bates wrote in a ruling following a trial over the merger.

He added that Aetna’s decision regarding participation in the 2017 exchanges in these counties was “in fact manipulated.”"

Another fear is that the tax credits will not be part of the budget allocations. If this occurs, many will truly not be able to buy insurance. We will again see a rise in emergency room costs and, for many people, this visit will be too late to save them. We want our policies to have some substance and cover the 10 essential benefits, which include seeing a doctor, maternity/baby care, mental health, hospitalization, prescription drugs, lab tests, pediatrics, emergency, therapy and preventive services.

There now are places where there is no option for affordable insurance. Routt County could be next. This legislature has shown it is unable to repeal the ACA but knows how to inflict damage upon it. I continue to hope for a kinder more empathetic leadership, but it is difficult to be optimistic when U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner will not hold Town Halls.

The solution is to be able to cover more people by improving the ACA. Call Tipton at 970-241-2499, Gardner at 970-245-9553, and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet at 970-241-6631, and let them know you want them to work within the structure of ACA and improve it rather than undermine it.

Julie Hagenbuch

Steamboat Springs