Health insurer Anthem endorses Senate bill

Health insurer Anthem endorses Senate bill
© Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

Health insurance giant Anthem Inc. endorsed the Senate GOP's healthcare legislation Monday, saying it believes the bill will stabilize the individual market.

The endorsement comes as doctors, hospitals, patient groups and even other health plans have slammed the legislation as harmful, and outside experts have warned it could destabilize the individual marketplace.

“We believe the Senate discussion draft will markedly improve the stability of the individual market and moderate premium increases” because it appropriates billions of dollars in short-term funding to shore up the exchanges, provides cost sharing reduction (CSR) funds, and eliminates a tax on health insurance plans, Anthem said in a statement. 

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The insurance industry has remained largely silent on the legislation, making it likely Republicans will seize on Anthem's support as they push forward for a vote this week. Anthem is one of the largest health insurers in the country. It has already announced plans to withdraw from ObamaCare exchanges in Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio next year, a decision that’s become a major talking point for GOP senators as they work to repeal the health law.

Anthem cited uncertainty over the future of the insurer payments as one of the reasons they are leaving.

In its statement on the Senate bill, Anthem acknowledged the bill will make drastic changes to the Medicaid program. The legislation includes deep cuts and fundamentally reshapes the program from an open-ended government commitment to a system of capped federal payments that limit spending.

“We are committed to working with our government partners now and into the future to navigate the challenges the current bill proposes to the Medicaid program knowing how important it is to achieve the necessary funding and access to healthcare services and supports are for the individuals and families who rely on them,” the company said.

The BlueCross BlueShield Association, of which Anthem is a member, also said it supported the bill’s efforts to stabilize the marketplace. The legislation would give $50 billion from a “stability fund” through 2021.

“The state stability and innovation program will also go a long way in helping to cover the costs of caring for those with significant medical needs,” BCBSA said in a statement.