After receiving numerous negative reviews from the health care industry, Republicans earned one notable supporter of their Obamacare replacement legislation this week. The insurer Anthem sent a letter Thursday to the GOP House chairmen shepherding the legislation, the American Health Care Act, praising some provisions in the bill, Morning Consult reported.
Anthem chief executive Joseph R. Swedish said, “The time to act is now,” arguing that the “American Health Care Act addresses the challenges immediately facing the Individual market and will ensure more affordable health plan choices for consumers in the short term.”
He highlighted specifically: a fund Republicans are proposing for states to set up programs to subsidize high risk individuals; repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance tax; the temporary continuation of subsidies for insurers to keep out-of-pockets costs low for consumers; and the loosening of requirements for individual insurance plans to be eligible for tax credits.
Not surprisingly, all four provisions stand to directly benefit the insurance industry.
“These provisions are essential and must be finalized quickly to have the intended impact on products and prices to benefit consumers,” Swedish said. Anthem, it’s worth noting, is awaiting federal approval for a $54 billion acquisition of Cigna, another major insurer.
White House officials, such as senior counselor Kellyanne Conway, were quick to tout the letter’s warm words.
Progress on repeal & replace: Major insurer supportive; GOP members of 2 key committees vote unanimously for it. https://t.co/ACdDaRWfo5
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) March 11, 2017
The reactions from other industry forces to the GOP bill have ranged from muted skepticism to outright rejection. America’s Health Insurance Plans, in the insurance industry’s biggest trade group, raised concerns with how the tax credits for individual plans were being restructured, and with the legislation’s overhaul of Medicaid, which stands to see massive cuts in its federal funding.
Anthem indicated that it was still giving that aspect of the American Health Care Act a hard look:
We are thoroughly reviewing and evaluating the legislation further to better understand the changes to both the Individual market and the Medicaid program. In particular, we will be seeking to ensure continuation of comprehensive Medicaid benefits, including Medicaid home and community-based services, beyond acute care to all who need them, most notably people with disabilities, older adults, and children and families who depend upon them. Based on our extensive experience serving Medicaid members – both traditional and expansion – it will be of vital importance to ensure spending projections are accurate.
Read the full letter below: