Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar pointed to short-term and association health plans during Friday’s White House press briefing as possible solutions to Obamacare and health insurance premiums reaching new heights.
Breitbart News asked Azar about insurers in areas like Maryland and Virginia who are considering double-digit health insurance premium increases in 2019. “There’s a Maryland regulator that’s said something like the ACA is in a ‘death spiral,’ echoing past words of the President [Donald Trump]. What are you doing to deal with that? Does HHS just accept these premium increases as reality? What are you doing to reduce those costs?”
Azar said some of the premiums being discussed now are “the very beginning of a process that happens with state regulators around those insurance designs.”
The secretary pointed to the massive Obamacare premium increases which occurred under President Obama. “They continue because of the structural infirmities in how Obamacare was designed,” He explained.
Azar highlighted President Trump’s efforts to solve the problem of spiking rates:
This is why the President has been so adamant about producing alternative, affordable options for patients because for so many, the 28 million forgotten men and women in this country have been forced out of the individual market and are sitting there without insurance even though they were promised they would have accessible, affordable, competitive insurance that they could keep.
6.7 million Americans paid 3.1 billion dollars in the Obamacare taxes for the privilege of not buying insurance they couldn’t afford and didn’t want and 80 percent of them make 50,000 dollars or less.
So we’re trying to bring short-term plans as an option for people. We’re trying to bring association health plans out of the Labor Department as options for people. The President is just- we want to keep looking for more options to get people out of some of the traps that the Obamacare system has created of these high cost and uncompetitive plans for people.
Maryland and Virginia health insurers are among those considering double-digit health insurance premium increases in 2019 for individual plans, according to Bloomberg. These states’ rates are the first 2019 rates being revealed. Maryland Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer Jr. said one insurer is looking to nearly double rates in his state. “I believe we’ve been in a death spiral for a year or two,” he told reporters on a recent call.
Health carriers have fled cities like Charlottesville, Virginia under what Kaiser Health News described as “the instability of the Obamacare marketplace,” which it said, “created a coverage vacuum, leaving locals and insurance regulators scrambling.”
Health insurance premiums have soared under Obamacare. HHS reported in May 2017 that “Average individual market premiums more than doubled from $2,784 per year in 2013 to $5,712 on Healthcare.gov in 2017 – an increase of $2,928 or 105%.”
Efforts to fulfill the campaign pledges of many Republicans to repeal Obamacare stalled after a late attempt to pass even a “skinny repeal” bill sank with Sen. John McCain’s thumbs down vote. What the administration has managed to do is repeal the health insurance mandate with a provision in the major tax cut plan passed late last year.
President Trump and Secretary Azar unveiled a new plan on Friday to return prescription drug prices to levels that are affordable for Americans. The two announced the “blueprint to lower drug prices” in a White House Rose Garden ceremony. Azar took reporters’ questions in the White House briefing room shortly thereafter.
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