A former vice presidential candidate who has been relatively moderate on health insurance issues told health insurers today that leaving counties without commercial individual health insurance options in 2018 could force Congress to set up a universal Medicare buy-in program.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D- Va., talked about the pressure for the creation of a universal Medicare buy-in program at a hearing on the individual health insurance market organized by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
“I don’t think it’s unfair for Anthem and other companies to say, ‘Give us some stability,’” Kaine told Robert Ruiz-Moss, a health insurance industry executive. Insurers deserve to know how the federal government’s rules, funding levels and public exchange program marketing efforts will be like, Kaine said.
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But “the ‘bare county’ phenomenon creates incredible pressure for us to provide a solution, so people can have health insurance,” Kaine said. “We will provide a vigorous public option to allow people to buy into Medicare.”
Today’s individual health market hearing was the last hearing in a series of four individual health hearings organized by the Senate HELP Committee.
The committee has posted a package of hearing materials, including a video recording and written versions of the witnesses’ testimony, here.
In addition to Ruiz-Moss, the witness list for today’s hearing included Dr. Manny Sethi, an orthopedic trauma surgeon from Nashville, Tennessee; Dr. Susan Turney, chief executive officer of Marshfield Clinic Health System Inc. in Marshfield, Wisconsin; Christina Postolowski, the Rocky Mountain regional director for Young Invincibles; and Raymond Farmer, the director of the South Carolina Department of Insurance and the secretary-treasurer at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
The witnesses asked Congress to keep the current Affordable Care Act cost-sharing reduction subsidy program in place in 2018 and 2019, and to provide a replacement for the ACA reinsurance program, a program that was designed to expire at the end of 2016.
(Image: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)
Ruiz-Moss, who is a Denver-based vice president in the individual market segment at Anthem Inc., talked in the written version of his testimony about health insurers’ need for regulatory stability.
Insurers now face basic questions about rules and funding sources for 2018, Ruiz-Moss said.