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Humana Interest Story: One of America’s Largest Insurers Leaves the ACA

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It was a Valentine’s Day announcement that most experts saw coming: Humana, one of the country’s largest health insurers, is breaking up with Obamacare. After taking a financial beating from an exchange that’s more volatile than ever, Humana said it will head for the exit on the law in 2018. Already, the company had scaled back its involvement — until this year, it only covered about 150,000 people of the 10 million enrollees. Like UnitedHealth and others before it, Humana can’t keep absorbing the losses of an imbalanced pool of policyholders.

Executives have hung in there for as long as possible, pointing out that they’d hoped the exchange would turn around. “All of these actions were taken with the expectation that the company’s Individual Commercial business would stabilize to the point where the company could continue to participate in the program.” Unfortunately for a lot of insurers, that never happened. There just aren’t enough healthy people buying plans to offset the sick, which means the company is swimming in red. “Based on its initial analysis of data associated with the company’s healthcare exchange membership following the 2017 open enrollment period, Humana is seeing further signs of an unbalanced risk pool.”

For Congress, Humana’s exodus should be even more motivation to get its act together on the reconciliation plan. But tragically, after a six-year war to topple the president’s failure, Republicans are no closer to repealing the bill than they were when President Trump’s moving vans arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania. For the latest several weeks, Republican leaders have desperately been trying to get on the same page with an alternative to the “Affordable” Care Act. And while the plan for replacing Obamacare is important, you can’t replace a law you haven’t repealed. House leaders need to take the first step, which is to wipe the slate clean and seed the ground for a patient-centered, cost-effective substitute. The Senate already opened the door to repeating what Congress did last year: ending the government’s direct deposit to Obamacare and Planned Parenthood. There’s absolutely no reason for House Republicans to drag the feet on the first part of the mission.

Several conservative members agree, signaling that it’s past time to do what the party promised. “The commitment for Republicans in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 has been repeal and replace, not repeal and renege, and repeal means that it’s a repeal,” Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) told reporters yesterday. “There are no Affordable Care Act plans. There’s no ‘if you like your Obamacare you can keep your Obamacare’ in the Republican commitment.” Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) was equally frustrated. “Members of Congress are scared all the time,” he argued. “They need to actually just lean in, move forward, and do what they told the American people they were going to do.” There is absolutely no excuse for not supporting a budget resolution that’s identical to the one passed by Congress at the end of 2015. The whole purpose of that exercise was to prove it could be done. What’s changed since then other than a president who will sign it?

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chair of the influential House Freedom Caucus, wonders the same thing. “To suggest that we can pass it in 2015 and that it’s more difficult to do it in 2017 makes for a very difficult argument for anyone on why they’ve changed their position and were willing to vote for it then and aren’t willing to vote for it now.” Of course, another problem is that the White House isn’t giving clear direction. “We’re working on Obamacare,” Trump has said. “It will be very soon.” What “it” is hasn’t been clear to GOP leaders, who are somewhat in limbo until the president decides which plan they ought to pursue.

For Republicans, this is the ultimate test of leadership. If they fail to repeal Obamacare when they have every puzzle piece in place, voters will never trust them to deliver on anything important again. Your members need to hear from you! Urge them to put their feet on the trail they blazed in 2015 and once again pass the budget reconciliation bill. Tell them to stop wasting time in repealing the bulk of Obamacare and Planned Parenthood funding. The longer Congress waits, the more vulnerable the Republican majority is.

Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.



 

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