- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday said Obamacare is in the throes of an “ongoing collapse” and that states across the Midwest will suffer the most next year, even as one insurer announced it is bucking the grim outlook and expanding its footprint in the law’s exchanges.

Mr. Pence said the Senate is “working tirelessly” on a replacement plan that would provide a smooth transition to a market-based system that empowers states.

Key senators will visit the White House later in the day to discuss the plan, which is being negotiated in secret.

The vice president didn’t say what’s in the emerging legislation, though he outlined the administration’s case against the Affordable Care Act, as a series of insurers pull out of markets or request double-digit increases.

Mr. Pence pointed to maps showing numerous counties in Ohio, Missouri and Iowa that will have only one choice under Obamacare next year, or could have no options at all.

“It is a death spiral,” he said in an address to Health and Human Services Department employees.

Insurers say the 2010 law itself is partly to blame, though they also point to President Trump’s wavering commitment to enforcing the law, including his refusal to ensure reimbursements for insurers who lose money on poorer customers’ costs.

Even so, Centene Corp. said Tuesday it is assuming a bigger role on the exchanges, entering Kansas, Missouri and Nevada for 2018 and reaching further into Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.

Centene’s membership in the exchanges grew from about 537,000 on Dec. 31to 1.2 million members as of March 31.

“Centene recognizes there is uncertainty of new health care legislation, but we are well positioned to continue providing accessible, high quality and culturally sensitive health care services to our members,” Centene President and CEO Michael F. Neidorff said. “Centene has demonstrated disciplined execution, agility and capacity to successfully navigate industry changes to the benefit of our members, customers and shareholders.”

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