Not with a shout, but a thumbs-down: With a dramatic last-minute assist from Sen. John McCain, Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski delivered a likely final blow to the Senate’s effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act early Friday morning.
Despite the havoc the Senate bill could have wreaked on insurers, their shares rose only slightly after the bill’s failure. That’s possibly because President Donald Trump tweeted he would “let Obamacare implode.” But this threat is more likely to be bluster than an actual strategy.
While the ACA is struggling in some areas with rising premiums and declining insurer participation, it is not collapsing. My Bloomberg News colleague Hannah Recht keeps an extremely handy tracker of insurers’ 2018 Obamacare plans. This shows that, while premiums are up and insurer choice is down in several states, the vast majority of Americans will be able to pick between multiple insurers on the individual market next year.
Two of the biggest ACA insurers, WellCare Health Plans Inc. and Molina Healthcare Inc., have yet to report earnings for the latest quarter. But the CEO of another, Centene Corp., on Tuesday gave credit to ACA exchanges for the company’s better-than-expected earnings in the second quarter.
Anthem Inc. still expects to record a slight loss in the individual market this year, but its latest quarterly earnings beat expectations, and it raised full-year forecasts. It currently plans to leave ACA exchanges in three states, accounting for about 10% of its exchange membership in 2018. But CEO Joe Swedish warned that number could increase if the Trump administration doesn’t guarantee it will keep paying cost-sharing subsidies that help low-income Americans afford health care.