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Obamacare Is Working Great… In DC

A friend of CHQ recently passed along a tip about how great Obamacare is working in DC.

The small association that he manages was recently forced onto the DC Obamacare exchange, and every time Obamacare on firea member of the exchange logs on they get a pop-up with this message:

On May 4, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill seeking to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The debate is now in the U.S. Senate. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), at this time, remains the law of the land with all of its consumer protections for people with pre-existing conditions, women, and small businesses. DC Health Link is established in District law, locally managed and controlled, financially sound and going strong. Legislative action on May 4 doesn’t impact your ability to enroll in affordable quality health insurance for 2017. You may also be eligible for premium reductions. DC Health Link has 20 private health insurance options to choose from for residents and their families from CareFirst and Kaiser Permanente. For 2017 small businesses have 151 health plan options from Aetna, CareFirst, Kaiser and United. Individuals and families can enroll if they qualify for a special enrollment due to a change in their life like getting married. Small businesses can sign up throughout the year. Residents can apply for Medicaid throughout the year.

Reading this taxpayer-funded lobbying message one would think that Obamacare was working great: 20 private health insurance options to choose from, premium reductions (well actually subsidies paid by you to residents of DC) and for “small businesses,” like the United States Congress, there are 151 health plan options from big companies, such as Aetna, CareFirst, Kaiser and United.

However, if you are an individual or small business – we mean a real small business, not Congress – across the Potomac River in Virginia, then Aetna is not an option for you, because Aetna is withdrawing from Virginia.

According to CNN’s Tammy Luhby, the company announced earlier this month that it won't participate in Virginia's individual market -- either on the Obamacare exchange or outside of it -- in 2018. Though it has greatly downsized its participation in Obamacare, Aetna said it could still lose more than $200 million in its individual market products this year. That's on top of the nearly $700 million it's lost in the three years after the exchanges opened in 2014.

Luhby say the move means Innovation Health, which Aetna formed through a joint venture with Washington D.C. metro-area insurer Inova in 2012, will also leave the Virginia market. In addition, UnitedHealth did not file with the Virginia's insurance department to offer policies in the state next year.

The companies' exit means that 27 counties in the Old Dominion could have only one choice for 2018, said Katherine Hempstead, a senior adviser at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funds health care research and grants. Six carriers have notified the state that they will participate in the state next year.

Aetna's withdrawal is the latest in a steady drumbeat of insurers leaving Obamacare noted Luhby. The exodus began last year, when several carriers announced they were exiting or downsizing in 2017 after suffering large losses. Aetna pulled out of 11 of its 15 markets for 2017. It is expected to announce whether it will remain in Delaware and Nebraska in coming months.

Humana has already announced it is completely exiting the individual market in 2018. Last month, Aetna and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield said they would stop selling individual policies in Iowa in 2018, leaving Iowans with just one option; Minnesota-based Medica.

However, after the big companies announced they were leaving Medica cast doubt on whether it to would stay in Iowa.

Our friends at ZeroHedge posted a statement from the company saying it was close to following two larger carriers in deciding not to sell such policies in Iowa for 2018, due to instability in the market.

“Without swift action by the state or Congress to provide stability to Iowa’s individual insurance market, Medica will not be able to serve the citizens of Iowa in the manner and breadth that we do today. We are examining the potential of limited offerings, but our ability to stay in the Iowa insurance market in any capacity is in question at this point,” the company’s statement said.

As ZeroHedge writer “Tyler Durden” pointed out, the two large carriers announced they had lost tens of millions of dollars in Iowa, largely because they covered too many older Iowans with chronic health problems and not enough young, healthy people. If Medica remains in the market, it would face the prospect of shouldering all of that risk by itself.

Meanwhile, according to ZeroHedge, Anthem has also signaled they may exit all exchanges next year as well which would leave another 250,000 consumers with no health insurance options.

And if you live in Tennessee?

Well, last year, BlueCross BlueShield — the oldest and largest insurer in Tennessee — pulled out of Memphis, leaving Humana and Cigna as the only insurance companies on the Memphis exchange for 2017.

Last month, Humana announced it would not sell insurance on the Obamacare exchanges in 2018 — leaving 70,000 Tennesseans faced with finding new health coverage, including 40,000 Knoxville residents where Humana was the only option.

Gee, if those Tennessee folks lived in Washington, DC they wouldn’t have this problem.

They’d have 20 private health insurance options to choose from, and from big companies like CareFirst and Kaiser Permanente, and if Tennessee small businesses were members of the United States Congress they would have 151 health plan options from Aetna, CareFirst, Kaiser and United to choose from.

But they’re not Members of Congress, and rather than repeal Obamacare, Tennessee’s establishment Republican Senator Lamar Alexander says the answer is more subsidies, so people can use their taxpayer-funded subsidy to buy from plans not on the Obamacare exchanges.

And the Senate's Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell?

Well, he says, inspite of the disasters recited above, he just doesn't know how he's going to get to the 50 votes he needs to repeal Obamacare.

We have a better idea.

Why not actually repeal Obamacare completely and let insurance companies offer plans that people in Virginia, Iowa, Tennessee and other places want to buy and can afford without government subsidies?

The Capitol switchboard is 1-866-220-0044, we urge CHQ readers to call their Senators today, tell them Obamacare may be working great in Washington DC, but it is failing for the rest of America.

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