Aetna CEO says ObamaCare in 'death spiral'

Aetna CEO says ObamaCare in 'death spiral'
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The CEO of one of the largest health insurers said Wednesday that ObamaCare is in a "death spiral."

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini's comments come the day after Humana announced it would not participate in the ObamaCare exchanges in 2018.

"It's not going to get any better; it's getting worse," Bertolini said at a Wall Street Journal event.

"You saw my friend, Bruce, at Humana say, 'We're out.' "

Humana cited an unbalanced risk pool as its reason for the departure, meaning the company didn't have enough healthy people enrolled in coverage to balance out its sick customers.

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"That logic shows just how much the risk pools are deteriorating in the ACA," Bertolini said.

He added: "I think you will see a lot more withdrawals this year. ... There isn't enough money in the ACA as structured, even with the fees and taxes, to support the population that needs to be served."

"It is in a death spiral," he said, but did not say whether Aetna would participate in the exchanges in 2018.

Bertolini's comments follow Aetna's failed acquisition of Humana. The companies announced Tuesday they would abandon the deal instead of appealing a federal judge's decision to block the merger.

Aetna scaled back its own participation in ObamaCare last year.

The legal fight over the Humana merger unearthed documents, according to the federal court ruling, that indicated Aetna sought to use its participation in ObamaCare as leverage to get the deal approved.

Aetna Executives warned federal officials they might revisit their plans for offering ObamaCare coverage if the merger with Humana were blocked. The Obama administration sued to stop the deal last summer.

The Trump administration Wednesday released a proposed rule aimed at stabilizing the ObamaCare marketplace.

The regulation includes several changes that insurers have long pushed for, which could help them shore up their finances in the ObamaCare market, helping prevent them from leaving the market or hiking premiums.

But it's unclear if the proposed changes will be enough to encourage insurers to offer coverage next year as Republicans publicly debate how to repeal and replace ObamaCare.