News Roundup: Democrats Try to Shift Blame for Sixth Straight Year of Premium Increases Since Obamacare Took Effect

May 9, 2018 - May 9, 2018

“About 10 days ago, Senator Schumer came to the Senate floor and warned that very soon, health insurance companies will begin to announce their proposed rates for the year 2019 in each state across the country, and that when they do, many health insurance companies will propose rate increases… Of course they blame President Trump and Republicans in Congress. It’s a little like if you sold someone a house with a leaky roof and you tried to blame the new owner for that leaky roof.”

Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said yesterday on the Senate floor that Democrats are “already busy finding someone to blame,” after they blocked a proposal earlier this year that could have helped avoid a sixth straight year of insurance rate increases since Obamacare took effect. Alexander said that since Democrats wrote the law, “they should look in the mirror.”

This week, health insurers in Virginia and Maryland requested rate hikes for the 2019 plan year.

 

Click here to read more or on the above photo to watch Alexander’s full remarks.

Politico:

Amid new reports of surging insurance rates for 2019, Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander told health care allies in a letter today that Democrats are to blame for the impasse over stabilizing the health markets, and said the Trump administration needs to turn to regulatory action. “The last seven months show that Democrats are not willing even to make modest temporary changes with which they agree,” he wrote in a letter to groups that supported his effort and obtained by POLITICO. “So now efforts to help Americans paying skyrocketing premiums will turn to the Trump administration and the states.” The letter comes in the wake of announcements that insurers in Virginia and Maryland want to raise rates by double digits next year.

The Hill:

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) wrote in a recent letter that bipartisan efforts to fix ObamaCare have failed and he is now turning to focus on additional actions the Trump administration can take on its own regarding the health-care law. Alexander worked for months with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on a bipartisan effort to provide funding to bring down ObamaCare premiums, but the effort fell apart in March. Alexander, in a letter to supporters sent Monday and obtained by The Hill, said he does not see any path forward for bipartisanship on the issue. “Given Democrats' attitude, I know of nothing that Republicans and Democrats can agree on to stabilize the individual health insurance market,” Alexander wrote. “So now efforts to help Americans paying skyrocketing premiums will turn to the Trump Administration and the states,” he added.

National Journal:

“I think there’s no question that rates are going to be going up and I think there’s no question that the reason for it is because Democrats blocked our effort to reduce rates by 40 percent,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, one of the key lawmakers on a stabilization package that failed to move forward this year because of arguments around abortion language. Alexander later said in a statement that the one reason for skyrocketing premiums is Obamacare, “which no Republican voted for and which Democrats proved once again in March that they are absolutely unwilling to change.”

Axios:

Sen. Lamar Alexander has officially thrown in the towel on a bipartisan bill to stabilize the ACA. He said in a letter to allies that "Democrats are not willing even to make modest temporary changes with which they agree. So now efforts to help Americans paying skyrocketing premiums will turn to the Trump Administration and the states." Alexander praised the administration's proposal to expand access to association health plans — policies that allow similarly situated people to band together basically as if they were under the umbrella of one large employer.

Washington Times:

Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander says legislative efforts to stabilize the Obamacare markets this year are dead and that it’s up to states and the Trump administration to provide relief from rising insurance rates. In a new letter, Mr. Alexander thanks colleagues who backed his push to fund “cost-sharing” payments and billions in reinsurance money to slash premiums, while decrying Democrats who balked over language that said the funds couldn’t flow to plans that cover abortion.

Washington Examiner:

The higher prices won't be felt by everyone in the exchanges, however. Most people who buy coverage on the exchanges receive federal subsidies that blunt the costs of coverage. The price increases will be most felt most heavily by people making above roughly $48,240 in gross income, the cut-off amount at which people don't receive government help.

The Hill:

Republicans counter that repeal of the mandate removed a burdensome requirement on low-income people to buy insurance that they often could not afford. “They'll no longer be forced into that,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) when asked about Democratic attacks on mandate repeal.

###