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27 февраля, 20:20

Remarks by President Trump in Listening Session with Health Insurance Company CEOs

Roosevelt Room 11:03 A.M. EST THE PRESIDENT:  You are the big ones.  You are the biggest of the big, right?  (Laughter.)  That’s very impressive.  Thank you for being here.  We just had a great meeting with the governors on the horrible effects that Obamacare is having.  We’re going to change it and straighten it out, and make -- we have a plan that’s going to be, I think, fantastic.  It will be released fairly soon.  We’ll be talking about it tomorrow night during the speech.  But I think it’s going to be something special, and we’ll talk it about right here.  I think we’ll get you on, and I think you’re going to like what you hear. Again, thank you for being here.  I want to thank also Secretary Tom Price who’s with us, and who’s doing a phenomenal job on a very complex subject, the subject of healthcare.  He’s an advocate for the patients.  Tom is all about the patients.  That’s what he wants.  He wants to have a great healthcare system. Obamacare has been a disaster, and it’s only getting worse.  Last year alone, Obamacare premiums increased by double digits.  Since it has gone into effect, premiums are up by almost 100 percent in many areas.  And I think that this year it’s going to be really the year that I’ve always predicted -- ’17 is going to be a catastrophic year for Obamacare, for payments.  And you just take a look at what’s happening in various states like Arizona -- I believe it was up 116 percent; it’s going to be worse this year. Obamacare forced providers to limit the plan options they offered to patients and caused them to drive prices way up.  Now, a third of United States counties are down to one insurer, and the insurers are fleeing.  You people know that better than anybody. Since Obamacare went into effect, nearly half of the insurers are stopped and have stopped from participating in the Obamacare exchanges.  It has gotten so bad that nearly 20 million Americans have chosen to pay the penalty, or received an exemption rather than buy insurance.  That’s something that nobody has ever heard of or thought could happen, and they’re actually doing that rather than being forced to buy insurance.   We must work together to save Americans from Obamacare -- you people know that, and everyone knows that at this point -- to create more competition and to bring down the prices substantially.  The chaos that Obamacare has created, and for which congressional Democrats -- and you see that -- are alone and responsible for requires swift action.  I actually told the Republicans that if we did nothing, just do nothing for a two-year period, let Obamacare totally implode -- which it’s doing right now anyway -- that would be, from a political standpoint, the best thing we could do is to let it implode, and then people will come begging -- the Democrats will come begging to do something to help them out of the jam. Once we start doing it, we sort of inherit the problem, we take over the problem, it becomes ours.  But it’s the right thing to do for the American people.  I think allowing this to go on -- this disaster to go on -- is a mistake.  So I’m asking Secretary Price to work with you to stabilize the insurance markets and to ensure a smooth transition to the new plan.  And the new plan will be a great plan for the patients, for the people, and hopefully for the companies.  It's going to be a very competitive plan.  And costs will come down, and I think the healthcare will go up very, very substantially.  I think people are going to like it a lot. We’ve taken the best of everything we can take.  It’s our hope that Democrats will stop the obstruction and resistance.  And that’s what they have -- in fact, they have a sign, "resist, resist."  They want to resist everything, including Cabinet members.  I have many Cabinet members that haven’t been approved yet, people that are extraordinary -- all of whom are going to be approved, but they just take forever.  It’s called obstruct and resist.  Hope I didn’t give them a new phrase, because their real phrase is “resist.”  I think I just gave them another word.  I shouldn’t have done that.  I’m good at branding.  (Laughter.)  You’re going to see them now come out, “obstruct and resist.”  All right, well, at least I can take credit for it.   And they worked with us, and we are going to hopefully work with the Democrats, because ultimately we’re all people that love this country and we want to do the right thing, including reforms like expanded healthcare savings accounts, state flexibility, and the ability to purchase across state lines.  The state lines are so important for competition.  Everybody has wanted to do it for years.  What’s not to do?  So that’s going to be very important. I want to thank you all for being here.  I want to know and I want you to know that it’s an honor to do business with you.  It’s a great honor to have you in the White House.  And we look forward to providing healthcare that is that is extraordinary -- better than any other country anywhere in the world.  And we can do that.  We have the talent, we have the capacity, and we have the people.  So we’ll work on that together.  And maybe before the press leaves, you can just introduce yourself and your company, and the public will get to see what you're about.  And then if things aren’t working out, I’m blaming you anyway.  (Laughter.)  So we’ll start with Brad. MR. WILSON:  Thank you, Mr. President.  I appreciate the opportunity to be here.  I’m Brad Wilson, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, and pleased to represent our 3.9 million customers here today. THE PRESIDENT:  That's great, Brad.  Great job. MR. BERTOLINI:  Mark Bertolini, chairman and CEO of Aetna.   THE PRESIDENT:  Aetna -- good one.   PARTICIPANT:  And I also represent America’s health insurance plans.  We represent all health insurance plans in Washington, D.C., including the plan to cover Medicaid managed care. THE PRESIDENT:  Great. MR. BROUSSARD:  Bruce Broussard, CEO of Humana. MR. GARRITY:  Pat Garrity, I’m the CEO of Florida Blue, the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan in the state of Florida.  THE PRESIDENT:  Great. MR. HEMSLEY:  I’m Steve Hemsley from UnitedHealth Group.  We're a diversified health care company of about 230,000 employees.  We serve about 120 million Americans.  And we are contributing in terms of the jobs we've -- 35,000 in the last five years and 10,000 in the coming year.  We're a mission-driven enterprise, help people live healthier lives, and make the system work for everyone. THE PRESIDENT:  Good, thank you very much. MR. CORDANI:  Mr. President, David Cordani from Cigna Corporation.  We're a global health service company. MR. SEROTA:  Scott Serota, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.  We represent 108 million subscribers.   THE PRESIDENT:  108 million, that's a pretty big deal, right?  MR. SEROTA:  Yes, it is. THE PRESIDENT:  Pretty big. MR. SWEDISH:  Good morning, Mr. President.  I’m Joe Swedish with Anthem.  We're in 14 states, representing 40 percent of the American public.  We have 40 million members, and we've been involved in the individual (inaudible) for probably seven decades, and deeply embedded in the Affordable Care Act situation that has evolved over the last three years.  I don't want to miss the opportunity to thank you for the swift and decisive action that occurred most recently regarding some adjustments that have occurred in and around -- THE PRESIDENT:  We had to step in.   MR. SWEDISH:  Thank you very much. THE PRESIDENT:  It was going to be an implosion.  We had to step in.  Thank you for saying that. MR. SWEDISH:  Thank you, sir.  Thank you. MR. TYSON:  I’m Bernard Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, better known as Kaiser Permanente.  We cover 11.7 million Americans.  We also are an integrated delivery system, so we both provide the coverage and the care.  We have Permanente medical groups that contract exclusively with Kaiser Foundation Health Plan.  And we're proud to care for 11.7 million people.  THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Bernard. MR. HILFERTY:  Mr. President, I’m Dan Hilferty.  I’m based in Philadelphia with Independence Blue Cross, Independence Health Group.  We're in 32 states and the District of Columbia and a large Medicaid managed care population.   We're the only player on the exchange in the five-county Philadelphia area.  And again, I’d like to echo Joe’s point.  We were thrilled with the initial steps to stabilize the market.  We look forward to working with you, Vice President Pence, Secretary Price in making sure that we have a sustainable program for years to come.  So thank you. THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much.  And the market, as you know, and we talk about stabilizing the market -- the market is disastrous.  It’s going to absolutely implode.  That's why we're meeting today.  And I think we're going to come up with something where not only will the market be great, but the people are going to be taken care of.  So we will work that out I think quite easily, actually. Thank you very much.  Thank you, everybody.  END  11:12 A.M. EST

24 февраля, 19:17

Trump falsely claims that Obamacare covers ‘very few people’

President Donald Trump falsely claimed on Friday that the health care law known as Obamacare “covers very few people.” Trump, delivering a speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, was sharply critical of the Affordable Care Act, which he repeatedly pledged to “repeal and replace” as a candidate.Former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement has come under fire in the wake of premium increases. And more recently, instability in the exchange market has prompted some insurers to consider pulling out. One major company, Humana, announced earlier this month that it intends to leave the state marketplaces in 2018.Trump’s claim that “very few people” are covered under the law, though, is incorrect. An estimated 20 million people have gained coverage through it (PolitiFact notes many of those people, likely a majority, are covered through the law’s expansion of Medicaid).Republicans are currently debating what legislation they might put in its place, if they do indeed repeal it. They have run into resistance to their plans in part because so many people depend on the law for their insurance.

18 февраля, 20:38

This Is What Obamacare's Critics Won't Admit Or Simply Don't Understand

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); THOUSAND OAKS, California ― Maryann Hammers is likely to die from ovarian cancer someday. But she hopes someday won’t come anytime soon. Hammers, 61, received the diagnosis in late 2013, and doctors told her that it was stage 3-C, which meant that she could live for many years with the right treatment and a little luck. So far, she’s had both. She’s in remission for the second time, and her last course of chemotherapy ended a year and a half ago. But recent blood tests detected elevated levels of a protein associated with tumors, she explained when we met a few weeks ago. “Maybe it’s a fluke,” she said. “I hope so. I kinda feel like the clock is ticking.” If the cancer is back, Hammers said, she may need surgery similar to her two previous operations — “gigantic surgeries, gutted like a fish and hospitalized for many days.” Chemotherapy would likely come next, plus medication, hospitalization, and home care. But Hammers considers herself lucky because she’s been able to get treatment at City of Hope, a highly respected Southern California cancer research and treatment center, and luckier still that she’s been able to pay for the treatment with insurance — an Anthem Blue Cross policy she bought through Covered California, the exchange her state created under the Affordable Care Act. To hear President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans tell it, Obamacare has been a disaster, even for those who obtained coverage through the law. Hammers has a very different perspective. She’s a freelance writer and editor, which means she has no employer-provided insurance. In the old days, if she’d gone shopping for a policy with her cancer diagnosis, she would have struggled to find a carrier willing to sell her one. I'm terrified. ... Do you know how easy it is to use a million dollars when you're getting cancer treatment? Maryann Hammers, Thousand Oaks, California And it’s not just the pre-existing condition guarantee, which even critics like Trump say they support, that Hammers has found so valuable. The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover a wide range of services and treatments — which, in her case, has included multiple shots of Neulasta, a medication that boosts white blood cell counts and typically costs several thousand dollars per injection. The law also prohibits annual or lifetime limits on benefits, which, as a long-term cancer patient, she would be a prime candidate to exceed.  Policies with such robust coverage inevitably cost thousands of dollars a year, more than Hammers could afford on her own — particularly since battling the disease has cut into her work hours. But the law’s generous tax credits discount the premiums and help with the out-of-pocket costs, too. “Without the Affordable Care Act, I honestly do not know what I would have done,” she said. The coverage Hammers has today still isn’t as good as what she had years ago, when she worked for a company that provided benefits. But it’s better than what she had in the years right before the cancer diagnosis, when she was buying insurance on her own. The latter plan covered fewer services and came with out-of-pocket costs high enough to discourage her from getting checkups. Obamacare’s introduction of free preventive screenings led her to schedule a long-overdue colonoscopy. During routine preparation for that procedure, a physician first felt a lump in her abdomen.   Sometimes Hammers wonders whether, with less sporadic doctor visits, the cancer might have been caught a little sooner. “But I couldn’t afford a fat doctor’s bill. And I thought I was super healthy.” These days, something else looms even larger in her mind — the possibility that Trump and the Republican Congress will repeal the health care law without an adequate replacement, or maybe with no replacement at all.   “I’m terrified — isn’t that crazy?” Hammers said. “My biggest source of stress right now isn’t the fact that I have incurable cancer. It’s the prospect of losing my insurance.” What American Health Care Used To Look Like To appreciate the significance of stories like Hammers’ and what they say about the Affordable Care Act, it helps to remember what used to happen to people like her before the law took effect. By 2009, when President Barack Obama took office, roughly 1 in 6 Americans had no health care insurance, and even the insured could still face crippling medical bills. As a reporter covering health care during those years, I met these people. Some of their stories stand out, even now, because they capture the old system at its callous, capricious worst. Gary Rotzler, a quality engineer at a defense contractor in upstate New York, lost his family coverage in the early 1990s when he lost his job. He ended up uninsured for two years, while he juggled stints as an independent contractor. His wife, Betsy, made do without doctor visits even after she started feeling some strange pains. By the time she got a checkup, she had advanced breast cancer. Desperate efforts at treatment failed. After she died, Gary, a father of three, had to declare bankruptcy because of all the unpaid medical bills. Jacqueline Ruess, a widow in south Florida, thought she was insured. But then she needed expensive tests when her physicians suspected she had cancer. Although the tests were negative, the insurer refused to pay the bills because, it said, a brief episode of a routine gynecological problem in her past qualified as a pre-existing condition. Tony Montenegro, an immigrant from El Salvador living in Los Angeles, was uninsured and working as a security guard, until untreated diabetes left him legally blind. Marijon Binder, an impoverished former nun in Chicago, was sued by a Catholic hospital over medical expenses she couldn’t pay. And Russ Doren, a schoolteacher in a Denver suburb, believed he had good insurance until the bills for his wife’s inpatient treatment at a psychiatric hospital hit the limit for mental health coverage. The hospital released her, despite worries that she was not ready. A few days later, she took her own life. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 was an effort to address these kinds of problems — to carry on the crusade for universal coverage that Harry Truman had launched some 60 years before. But precisely because Obama and his allies were determined to succeed where predecessors had failed, they made a series of concessions that necessarily limited the law’s ambition. They expanded Medicaid and regulated private insurance rather than start a whole new government-run program. They dialed back demands for lower prices from drugmakers, hospitals and other health care industries. And they agreed to tight budget constraints for the program as a whole, rather than risk a revolt among more conservative Democrats. These decisions meant that health insurance would ultimately be more expensive and the new system’s financial assistance would be less generous. Still, projections showed that the law would bring coverage to millions while giving policymakers tools they could use to reduce medical costs over time. When the Senate passed its version of the legislation in December 2009, then-Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) described the program as a “starter home” with a solid foundation and room for expansion. Where Obamacare Failed And Where It Succeeded Seven years later, Trump and the Affordable Care Act’s other critics insist that the program has been a boondoggle — that the Obamacare starter home needs demolition. Some of their objections are philosophical, and some, like the persistent belief that the law set up “death panels,” are fantastical. But others focus on the law’s actual consequences. High on that list of consequences are the higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs that some people face. The new rules, like coverage of pre-existing conditions, have made policies more expensive, and Obamacare’s financial aid frequently doesn’t offset the increases. A “rate shock” wave hit suddenly in the fall of 2013, when insurers unveiled their newly upgraded plans and in many cases canceled old ones — infuriating customers who remembered Obama’s promise that “if you like your plan, you can keep it,” while alienating even some of those sympathetic to what Obama and the Democrats were trying to do. I’ve interviewed plenty of these people, too. A few weeks ago, I spoke with Faisuly Scheurer, a real estate agent from Blowing Rock, North Carolina. She and her husband, who works in the restaurant business, were excited about the health care law because they’d struggled to find decent, affordable insurance. They make about $60,000 a year, before taxes, with two kids and college tuition looming in the not-distant future, she said. In late 2013, they checked out their options and learned that, after tax credits, coverage would cost $360 a month. Scheurer said she remembers thinking, “OK, that is really tight. But if the benefits are good, we are going to have to skimp on other things to make it work.” Then she learned about the out-of-pocket costs, which could reach $13,000 over the course of a year depending on her family’s medical needs. “My disappointment was indescribable.” The Scheurer family ultimately decided to remain uninsured. They’re not the only ones, and that has weakened the system as a whole. The people eschewing coverage tend to be relatively healthy, since they’re most willing to take the risk of no coverage. That’s created big problems for insurers, which need the premiums from healthy folks to offset the high medical bills of people with serious conditions. Many insurers have reacted by raising premiums or pulling out of some places entirely, leaving dysfunctional markets in North Carolina and a handful of other states. Just this week, Humana, which had already scaled back its offerings, announced that it was pulling out of the Affordable Care Act exchanges altogether. At least for the moment, 16 counties in Tennessee don’t have a single insurer committed to offering coverage in 2018. Trump, Ryan and other Republicans pounced on the Humana news, citing it as more proof of a “failed system” and the need for repeal. That’s pretty typical of how the political conversation about the Affordable Care Act has proceeded for the last seven years. The focus is on everything that’s gone wrong with Obamacare, with scant attention to what’s gone right. And yet the list of what’s gone right is long. In states like California and Michigan, the newly regulated markets appear to be working as the law’s architects intended, except for some rural areas that insurers have never served that well. Middle-class people in those states have better, more affordable options. It looks like more insurers are figuring out how to make their products work and how to successfully compete for business. Customers have turned out to be more price-sensitive than insurers originally anticipated. In general, the carriers that struggle are large national companies without much experience selling directly to consumers, rather than through employers. Last year’s big premium increases followed two years in which average premiums were far below projections, a sign that carriers simply started their pricing too low. Even now, on average, the premiums people pay for exchange insurance are on a par with, or even a bit cheaper than, equivalent employer policies — and that’s before the tax credits. The majority of people who are buying insurance on their own or get their coverage through Medicaid are satisfied with it, according to separate surveys by the Commonwealth Fund and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The level of satisfaction with the new coverage still trails that involving employer-provided insurance, and it has declined over time. But it’s clearly in positive territory  And then there’s the fact that the number of people without health insurance is the lowest that government or private surveys have ever recorded. When confronted with questions about the people who gained coverage because of the law, Republicans often say something about sparing those people from disruption ― and then argue that even those who obtained insurance through the law are suffering and no better off. This claim is wildly inconsistent with the experience of people like Maryann Hammers ― and, more important, it’s wildly inconsistent with the best available research. People are struggling less with medical bills, have easier access to primary care and medication, and report that they’re in better health, according to a study that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2015. The number of people forgoing care because of costs or being “very worried” about paying for a catastrophic medical bill dropped substantially among the newly insured, Kaiser Foundation researchers found last year when they focused on people in California. A bunch of other studies have turned up similar evidence, All of them concur with a landmark report on the effects of Massachusetts’ 2006 insurance expansion, which was a prototype for the national legislation. Residents of that state experienced better health outcomes and less financial stress, according to the study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. “Though it’s had no shortage of controversies and stumbles, there’s really no denying that the ACA has created historic gains in insurance coverage,” said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Foundation. “With better coverage that has fewer holes, access to health care has improved and many have better protection from crushing medical bills.” What Repeal Would Really Mean Reasonable people can disagree about whether these achievements justify Obamacare’s costs, which include not only higher premiums for the young and healthy but also hefty new taxes on the wealthiest Americans. That’s a debate about values and priorities as much as facts. What’s not in dispute, or shouldn’t be, is the stark choice on the political agenda right now. Democratic lawmakers still argue for the principle that Truman laid out in 1948: “health security for all, regardless of residence, station, or race.” They think the Affordable Care Act means the U.S. is closer to that goal and that the next step should be to bolster the law ― by using government power to force down the price of drugs, hospital services and other forms of medical care, while providing more generous government assistance to people who still find premiums and out-of-pocket costs too onerous. Basically, they want people like Faisuly Scheurer to end up with the same security that people like Maryann Hammers already have. Some Republicans talk as if they share these goals. Trump has probably been the most outspoken on this point, promising to deliver “great health care at lower cost” and vowing that “everybody would be covered.” But other Republicans reject the whole concept of health care as a right. Although it’s theoretically possible to draw up a conservative health plan that would improve access and affordability, these aren’t the kinds of plans that Republicans have in mind.  There’s a face to this law, there’s a face to people that are going to be affected by it. Angela Eilers, Yorba Linda, California Their schemes envision substantially less government spending on health care, which would mean lower taxes for the wealthy but also less financial assistance for everybody else. Republicans would make insurance cheaper, but only by allowing it to cover fewer services and saddling beneficiaries with even higher out-of-pocket costs. The result would be some mix of more exposure to medical bills and more people without coverage. If Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act without replacing it ― a real possibility, given profound divisions within the GOP over how to craft a plan ― 32 million more people could go uninsured, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That would mean real suffering, primarily among those Americans who benefit most from the law now ― the ones with serious medical problems, or too little income to pay for insurance on their own, or both. Jay Stout, a 20-year-old in Wilmington, North Carolina, is one of those people. He was in good health until a head-on car collision nearly severed his arm and landed him in the hospital for more than a month. Surgeries and rehabilitation would have cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars that, as a community college student working part-time as a busboy, he could never have paid — if not for the Blue Cross plan that his mother had bought through the Affordable Care Act. When we spoke a few weeks ago, he told me the insurance has been “irreplaceable” and that losing it “would be totally devastating.” Meenakshi Bewtra had never had a serious health problem until her first year at the University of Pennsylvania medical school, when she developed severe gastrointestinal problems — the kind that forced her into the hospital for two months and drove her to drop out of school. Her insurance lapsed, which meant that her GI issues became a pre-existing condition. She eventually found coverage and today she’s a professor of medicine at Penn, where she moonlights as an advocate for universal health insurance. “For the first time, I truly understood what comprehensive health insurance meant,” Bewtra said, remembering what it was like to become fully covered. “I did not have to worry about how many times I saw a doctor, or how many lab tests I had to get, or having to ration out medications.” Angela Eilers, who lives in Yorba Linda, California, isn’t worrying about her own health. It’s her daughter Myka who has a congenital heart condition called pulmonary stenosis, which makes it more difficult for the heart to pump blood to the lungs. The little girl has required multiple surgeries and will need intensive medical treatment throughout her childhood. In 2012, Angela’s husband, Todd, was laid off from his job at an investment firm. Since going without insurance was not an option, they took advantage of COBRA to stay on his old company’s health plan. It was expensive, and Eilers recalled panicking over the possibility they might not be able to pay the premiums. “I remember sitting at the table, thinking of plans. What would be our plan? One of them was … giving up our parents rights to my mom, because she has really good health insurance.” Eventually her husband started his own consulting business, and that gave them the income to keep up with premiums until 2014 — when they were able to obtain coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Today they have a gold plan, one of the most generous available, for which they pay around $20,000 a year. Even though they make too much to qualify for financial assistance, they’re grateful for the coverage. Seven-year-old Myka has already run up more than a half-million dollars in medical bills. In the old days, before Obamacare, they would have worried about hitting their plan’s lifetime limit on benefits.  The family’s coverage has become more expensive over the years. They wish the price were lower, but they’re also not complaining about that. “I’m thankful that the letter was a premium hike, rather than ‘Sorry, we are not going to cover your daughter anymore,’” Angela Eilers said. When she thinks about the possibility of Obamacare repeal, she wonders if Trump and the Republicans understand what that would really mean. “There’s a face to this law, there’s a face to people that are going to be affected by it,” Eilers said. “It’s not me, it’s not him, it’s her. She’s only 7. And through no fault of her own, why should she suffer? And she’s not the only one.” Sign up for the HuffPost Must Reads newsletter. Each Sunday, we will bring you the best original reporting, long form writing and breaking news from The Huffington Post and around the web, plus behind-the-scenes looks at how it’s all made. Click here to sign up! -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

17 февраля, 23:31

Moody's Jumps into Action as Aetna-Humana Deal Fails

After the merger deal between Aetna Inc. (AET) and Humana Inc. (HUM) fell through, rating agency Moody's Investors Service jumped into action

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16 февраля, 19:42

Next Steps on Repeal and Replace: Remarks from Weekly Press Conference

Summary: This morning at his weekly press conference, Speaker Ryan discussed the House’s plans to introduce legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare following the President’s Day work period. Key Quote: “Here is what is important for us all to understand: Obamacare is not simply stuck in some kind of status quo. It is getting worse by the day, and it will keep getting worse unless we act.” Transcript: “After the House returns following President’s Day, we intend to introduce legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. “It has become increasingly clear that this law is collapsing. People’s premiums are getting higher and higher. Their deductibles are soaring. And their choices are dwindling to the point that so many families have no choice left at all. “But if it was not already clear, look at the events that happened this week. On Tuesday, another major insurance company announced that it, too, will leave the marketplace. In its decision, Humana cited a lack of young people signing up—a problem that has dogged Obamacare for years now. In many areas, Humana is the only carrier left, so this will mean even more instability.   “And then on Wednesday, the CEO of Aetna—another large insurance carrier—said that Obamacare is in a ‘death spiral.’ His words. “Here is what is important for us all to understand: Obamacare is not simply stuck in some kind of status quo. It is getting worse by the day, and it will keep getting worse unless we act. “We need to rescue people from this collapsing law, and we need to replace it with a true patient-centered system. One that gives every American access to quality, affordable coverage. “That means more choices and lower costs. It means real protections and peace of mind. And it means returning your care to your control. Patients and doctors should be making the big decisions—not government bureaucrats. “Step by step, this is what our plan to repeal and replace Obamacare will do. We look forward to making progress in the coming weeks and keeping our promise to the American people.” 

15 февраля, 23:23

The Urgency of Obamacare Repeal: Speaker Ryan’s Interview on Morning Joe

Summary: It’s been a busy 24 hours on the Obamacare front, with more bad news for consumers already struggling with higher premiums and fewer choices. Amid these developments, Speaker Ryan appeared on Morning Joe to talk about the urgency of rescuing people from this collapsing law. Key Quote: “Assuming that the status quo can stay with Obamacare is wrong—it’s collapsing as we speak. Humana, I think, just announced yesterday they are pulling out. ... So that’s one of the reasons why we’re doing Obamacare first because we’ve got to rescue people from this collapse. And we feel an obligation to do that.” We’ve Got To Rescue People “Assuming that the status quo can stay with Obamacare is wrong—it’s collapsing as we speak. Humana, I think, just announced yesterday they are pulling out. ... The Blue Crosses are on their last breath in these plans. So the status quo isn’t staying put—it is collapsing. So that’s one of the reasons why we’re doing Obamacare first because we’ve got to rescue people from this collapse. And we feel an obligation to do that.” The #Obamacare status quo is not staying put. This law is collapsing as we speak. https://t.co/yGRuCIspc3 pic.twitter.com/XYYaA1no5l— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) February 15, 2017 More Plans and More Competition “We've long said that people ought to be able to stay on their insurance until they're 26 years of age. With respect to pre-existing conditions, we think the better and smarter policy is to revitalize our risk pools at the state level with federal financing. So I see sort of a cooperation between the federal government and the state government. We don’t want to have the federal government overregulate all of health insurance. It's why we only have one plan left in five states, one plan left in 33 percent of the counties in America. So we do want to go back to states' rights, so that you can have competition. More plans, more competition that's a good thing.” Urgency  “We have to do Obamacare first in our first budget, and the reason we have to do it first is because the law is collapsing so fast. The insurance companies need to know what the lay of the land is going to look like in 2018. And if we waited and did Obamacare in the summer, you would have so many pullouts. You would have people with zero plans left. So, we really feel that because the law is collapsing, there’s an urgent nature.”

15 февраля, 21:24

We Saw This Coming: Another Major Insurer to Exit Obamacare

We were warned Obamacare exchanges would see less competition and choice in 2018—and over the past 24 hours, two insurers have turned that fear into a reality. “Humana to drop out of Obamacare marketplace at the end of 2017.” That headline flooded inboxes yesterday afternoon—one more sign that things are only getting worse under Obamacare. But that’s not all. Just this morning, Aetna’s CEO declared that Obamacare markets are in a “death spiral,” predicting even more insurers will leave in the coming weeks. With shrinking competition in individual markets, incentives for Americans to sign up for coverage are dwindling. Now, incentives for insurers to stick around are fading, too. The Humana news follows the decisions last year by insurance giants United and Aetna to leave the Obamacare markets. Here was Speaker Ryan’s reaction to Humana’s decision during his interview on Morning Joe: “Assuming that the status quo can stay with Obamacare is wrong—it’s collapsing as we speak. Humana, I think, just announced yesterday they are pulling out. So we’ve seen United pull out, we’ve seen Aetna pull out, we’ve seen Humana pull out. The Blue Crosses are on their last breath in these plans. So the status quo isn’t staying put—it is collapsing. So that’s one of the reasons why we’re doing Obamacare first because we’ve got to rescue people from this collapse. And we feel an obligation to do that.” WHY THIS HAPPENED Humana cited two main reasons for its decision: One, “the market has not stabilized enough to participate next year,” and two, the company “is losing money from taking on too many sick people without enough healthy people to balance the pools.”  In other words: Obamacare markets are not sustainable. Aetna’s CEO admitted “it’s getting worse.” As designed, the system relies on young, healthy Americans to keep it afloat. Unfortunately, people just aren’t buying it, making health care across America less affordable. Last October, POLITICO delved into “Obamacare’s millennial problem”: “The 18- to 34-year-olds who helped elect Barack Obama could consign his signature domestic policy achievement to failure. That’s because not enough millennials have signed up for Obamacare to make it work well. Despite repeated outreach—including entreaties from all manner of celebrities, including NBA stars and Obama himself —young people make up less than 30 percent of Obamacare customers. The White House had set a goal of 40 percent in that age bracket to sustain a healthy marketplace…” Unfortunately, we saw this coming—it’s more bad news for the country as a result of the collapsing health care law. As Speaker Ryan said Tuesday, “Insurers should compete for your business, and treat you fairly.” But as evidenced by the latest development, under the current system, they aren’t able to. That’s why Republicans are pursuing solutions that will increase competition, lower costs, and put the patient back in control. Using ideas introduced last summer, we are working to repeal Obamacare and replace it step-by-step. We believe in a system that encourages choice and prioritizes the patient, not Washington’s mandates. It’s time to restore the competition that gives Americans the control and flexibility over their health care that they deserve.  

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14 февраля, 17:32

Humana's stock gains 0.1% after Aetna merger deal terminated

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14 февраля, 17:31

Aetna's stock slips 0.2% after Humana merger deal terminated

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14 февраля, 16:54

Aetna and Humana call off $34 billion merger

Aetna and Humana are calling off their $34 billion health care merger.

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14 февраля, 15:22

Aetna, Humana walk away from merger bid

Health insurance giants Aetna and Humana are dropping their $37 billion merger bid, declining to challenge a January court ruling that blocked their deal on antitrust grounds.The decision ends the companies’ nearly two-year-long pursuit of a deal that would have made them the nation’s largest seller of private Medicare plans. Aetna Tuesday morning said the companies mutually agreed not to appeal, blaming in part the uncertainty surrounding the future of the nation’s health care system under President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress.“While we continue to believe that a combined company would create greater value for health care consumers through improved affordability and quality, the current environment makes it too challenging to continue pursuing the transaction,” Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said in a statement Tuesday morning. Aetna and Humana first agreed to merge in 2015, amid a wave of dealmaking as health insurers positioned themselves for a long-term future under Obamacare. But the Obama administration and several states objected to the deal, warning it would leave seniors with fewer and costlier Medicare Advantage options.Following a 13-day trial, District Court Judge John D. Bates last month emphatically sided with the Obama administration and struck down the merger.The insurers’ decision not to appeal comes days after Anthem said it will challenge a decision blocking its own $54 billion merger with Cigna. Aetna had previously expressed concerns about the uncertainties created by Republicans’ push to repeal and replace Obamacare. The insurer late last month warned that the individual insurance market is deteriorating and that it planned to shed most of its customers in that area. In early February, Aetna officials including Bertolini met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to discuss the GOP’s health reform efforts. Aetna will pay Humana a $1 billion breakup fee, the company said. It is also terminating its planned sale of 290,000 Medicare Advantage customers to Molina Healthcare, a deal originally aimed at making its tie-up with Humana more palatable to regulators.

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14 февраля, 15:11

Aetna Gives Up On Merger, Will Pay Humana $1B Breakup Fee

Aetna and Humana said they have terminated their merger agreement after a U.S. District Court Judge earlier this month ruled against the deal, effectively blocking the combination.

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14 февраля, 15:03

Aetna, Humana terminate merger deal after court grants DOJ request to enjoin the merger

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14 февраля, 15:02

Aetna to pay Humana $1 bln merger termination fee

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14 февраля, 15:02

Aetna and Humana agreed to end their merger agreement

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13 февраля, 17:30

Zacks Industry Outlook Highlights: Molina Healthcare, Centene, WellCare Health Plans and UnitedHealth Group

Zacks Industry Outlook Highlights: Molina Healthcare, Centene, WellCare Health Plans and UnitedHealth Group

11 февраля, 02:18

Will Health Insurers Face the Music of Trump's Policies?

Will Health Insurers Face the Music of Trump's Policies?

10 февраля, 17:30

Zacks Industry Outlook Highlights: Anthem, Cigna, Aetna, Humana and U.S. Healthcare Providers iShares ETF

Zacks Industry Outlook Highlights: Anthem, Cigna, Aetna, Humana and U.S. Healthcare Providers iShares ETF

10 февраля, 01:35

Health Insurance Industry Outlook - February 2017

Health Insurance Industry Outlook - February 2017

09 февраля, 18:10

Company News for February 09, 2017

Companies In The News are: AGN,CTSH,HUM,ALK