Insurer Anthem to cover bare ObamaCare counties in Virginia

Insurer Anthem to cover bare ObamaCare counties in Virginia
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Anthem announced Friday that it would fill Virginia's 63 counties that were slated to have no ObamaCare insurers on the exchange next year. 

Anthem initially announced it wouldn't sell plans in Virginia in 2018, but backtracked Friday to cover the so-called bare counties. 

"Since learning that 63 counties and cities in Virginia would not have access to Individual health plans, Anthem has been engaged in further evaluation and discussion with regulators to ensure that no bare counties or cities exist in the state," Anthem said in a statement Friday. 

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There was a risk those counties would be "bare" after their sole insurer, Optima Health, announced earlier this month it would not sell plans there next year. 

Anthem will sell on-and off-exchange individual plans in a total of 68 cities and counties next year in Virginia. 

"This decision will positively impact up to 70,000 Virginians — many of whom would not have had access to important health care coverage," Anthem said. 

Several insurers in states across the country have said they won't sell ObamaCare plans next year, citing uncertainty in the markets caused by the Trump administration. 

In particular, insurers are worried about whether the Trump administration will cancel key ObamaCare insurer subsidy payments called cost-sharing reductions.

These payments, which reimburse insurers for giving discounted deductibles and copayments to low-income customers, have been made on a monthly basis by the Trump administration, but insurers have asked for long-term certainty. 

Anthem has already exited markets in Indiana, Ohio, Nevada and Wisconsin. 

Virginia Sen. Tim KaineTimothy Michael KaineDemocrats turn on Al Franken Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank MORE (D) lashed out at an Anthem executive this week at a Senate Health Committee hearing on the exchanges. 

“I just want to communicate to all insurance companies: There is no way, none, that Congress is going to tolerate a situation where persistently there are counties in this country where people cannot buy insurance on the individual market," he said.

"We just won’t tolerate it."