By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Monday, US Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) said that reports that the nation’s largest healthcare insurer, United Healthcare, may drop out of Obamacare next year is a sign that Obamacare is fundamentally broken. There are reports that the company may stop providing exchange compliant healthcare coverage in 2017 due to the financial losses the company is incurring in the controversial program.
Congressman Byrne said, “As if we needed another sign that Obamacare was fundamentally broken, we now learn that one of our nation’s largest health insurance companies is considering pulling out of the health care exchanges. Obamacare can’t be fixed, and that’s why I have continually led the charge to repeal the law in its entirety and instead move forward with patient-centered health care reform.”
Prior to passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (popularly referred to as Obamacare) insurers limited their exposure to risk by using pre-existing conditions to deny healthcare coverage to high risk individuals. Obamacare made that illegal and also required that insurers provide a lot more benefits with those policies including prescription drug coverage and allowing children to remain on their parents’ insurance to age 26. This all dramatically increased costs. As costs increased more and more healthy people have elected to not pay for the increasingly expensive coverage. This creates a situation of adverse selection where healthy people don’t pay for the premiums (if something happens they can always sign up anyway because of no pre-existing conditions) and people who do need a lot of healthcare will pay whatever price because they need it the most. Really poor people were herded to Medicaid, the elderly get Medicare, and wealthy people buy in the much more competitive off the exchange market, which is generally accepted by far more doctors and healthcare providers.
Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking in Iowa said, “Someone has to repeal and replace Obamacare.” Obamacare is “a total catastrophe. It kicks in in 2016 and it will be a disaster. People are closing shops. Doctors are quitting the business. I have a friend who was a doctor and he says he has more accountants than patients. He needs that because it is complicated and terrible.”
Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Marco Rubio said last week in a joint statement on HR3762, “On Friday the House of Representatives is set to vote on a reconciliation bill that repeals only parts of Obamacare. This simply isn’t good enough. Each of us campaigned on a promise to fully repeal Obamacare and a reconciliation bill is the best way to send such legislation to President Obama’s desk. If this bill cannot be amended so that it fully repeals Obamacare pursuant to Senate rules, we cannot support this bill. With millions of Americans now getting health premium increase notices in the mail, we owe our constituents nothing less.” Cruz and Rubio are Republican Presidential candidates.
HR3762 is a reconciliation bill that among other things strikes down the Obamacare mandates for individuals and employers. Supporters of the Affordable Care Act are concerned that if employers and individuals are able to opt out of the unpopular plans without penalty that there will be a mass exodus.
United Healthcare does currently sell plans in Alabama. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama is the largest insurer in Alabama.
Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.