Health Insurers Antsy Over Latest Move To Weaken Obamacare

They warn that the funding pulled for a risk adjustment program will force even steeper premium hikes.

Under the ACA’s risk adjustment system for insurers, health plans that have to serve sicker populations are compensated by the earnings of plans that don’t have to. So, the Trump administration’s decision to freeze $10 billion of funding meant for the program has generated some angst among insurers, Politico reports.

Kris Haltmeyer, vice president of legislative and regulatory policy at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, wants the freeze to be immediately unfrozen. “This decision really does add uncertainty in the marketplace and could impact rates,” he tells Politico.

This follows signs that the ACA might be gaining new life. The Wall Street Journal reported on June 21 that after years of pulling out of the Obamacare marketplaces, health insurance plans have started to re-enter. That’s in part because the health plans are starting to make money because of premium rate hikes that may have finally caught up with the pace of coverage costs.

Ceci Connolly, CEO of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, tells Politico: “More and more of our members were feeling calm about the individual market for the first time in years, and this is just unsettling. You have to wonder, is it worth this kind of anxiety and stress for not much revenue?”

But Politico reports that few health care experts expect the freeze to last; the $10 billion risk adjustment money will again be freed up. Tim Jost, a legal expert and supporter of the ACA, called the reactions of some insurers “way over the top…. I feel like this isn’t quite as much of a crisis as it’s been portrayed,” he tells Politico.