Op-Ed: State Insurance Commissioner reacts to the U.S. Senate Health Bill

Friday, June 23, 2017

Insurance Commissioner
Mike Kreidler
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Senate today releasing its draft health care bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act: 

"The Senate Republicans drafted their health care bill in secret, and now we know why: It will erode the stability of our health insurance market and cause people – especially those who are sick or poor - to pay significantly more for less coverage.

"This is not partisan rhetoric, it’s how insurance works. By removing the individual mandate, you guarantee that fewer healthy people will get coverage. If only people who need coverage buy it, the costs will rise for everyone. By removing the funding for cost-sharing subsidies, people will face unaffordable deductibles and copays.

"The Senate bill is not a mirror image of what the House passed, but the result is the same: It will seriously destabilize the health insurance market and harm the millions of individuals and families who have counted on having access to meaningful and affordable coverage.

"The Senate bill makes deep cuts that will directly harm people who rely on Medicaid for their insurance. It reduces the number of middle-income people who qualify for premium subsidies and rolls back the Medicaid expansion starting in 2021. Medicaid covers half of all births in our country, and cutting its funding jeopardizes the health of women and children.

"Like the bill passed by the U.S. House, it allows states to waive requirements to cover essential health benefits such as contraceptives, maternity care and mental health care. And just like the House Republicans, Senate Republicans have rushed through their legislation in the dark of the night and without a thorough examination of the costs and effects on consumers by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Up to 24 million Americans would lose coverage under the House version and we estimated that 700,000 people in Washington state could lose coverage if the bill becomes law.

"My review of the Senate plan has just begun, and the CBO score – expected next week – will shed light on the true impacts we can already begin to see.

"As I’ve said many times before, we can make meaningful improvements to the Affordable Care Act that will help people in real ways using sound insurance principles, including tackling rising out-of-pocket costs for medical services and the surging prices of prescription drugs.

"The latest bill pushed in secrecy by the Republican-controlled Congress will not bring relief to anyone other than the wealthy in search of another tax break. Everyone should be able to buy health insurance, regardless of their income, age or health. Republicans are targeting the very same people they are sworn to represent, and people’s lives are at risk."


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