Top insurance CEOs openly blaming Trump sabotage for rate hikes and empty markets

VCU CNS / Flickr anthem blue cross...
VCU CNS / Flickr

While the Senate stages the world’s deadliest bit of improvisational theater in an attempt to gut both the Affordable Care Act and, now, Medicaid as a whole, the Trump administration has been openly threatening to withhold federal subsidies to the insurers that make up the Obamacare marketplaces. That would obviously decimate those markets. Already, insurance companies are openly citing the uncertainty over whether they will be getting paid for double-digit rate increases.

Now Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish is making the point even more bluntly: If the Trump administration continues to threaten to withhold those payments, his company will be leaving some of those markets entirely.

Insurance giant Anthem, which has already withdrawn from the Obamacare marketplaces in three states, will pull out of more if the federal government doesn’t take action soon to stabilize the market, CEO Joseph Swedish told investors Wednesday. […]

“If we aren’t able to gain certainty on some of these items quickly, we do expect that we will need to revise our rate filings to further narrow our level of participation,” Swedish said on a call to discuss the company’s second quarter earnings.

This is all Donald Trump and his Republican team. They have repeatedly mused over cutting off the federal payments in order to intentionally sabotage the Obamacare insurance marketplace; the move immediately led to rate hikes on consumers from nervous insurers and plans to exit those markets outright rather than risk being stiffed. That was the point behind the Trump team’s threats: to intentionally cause a “death spiral” for the Affordable Care Act-provided plans, after which Trump could turn his ruddy face to the cameras and declare that the markets had “failed.”

The Trump team is counting on their base to be so egregiously, spectacularly stupid that they will see only the massive rate increases without catching on to the part where Trump’s administration toadies did that on purpose, themselves. His base may indeed be just that stupid—we’ve yet to see any evidence that would suggest otherwise.

But the insurers aren’t, and the reporters covering the marketplaces aren’t, and any American not currently collecting a paycheck from Donald Trump isn’t.

The White House will take the blame for intentionally collapsing marketplaces, whether or not the Senate passes their own bill. And while it’s anybody’s guess what the party’s burn-it-downers will do many, many House and Senate Republicans are likely to raise holy hell about the Trump moves to crash their state’s insurance markets immediately before they themselves have to campaign for re-election. Being the enabler of that isn’t something they’ll be able to dodge at town halls, and you can bet that every insurance provider is going to make it crystal clear to their clients that it’s not their fault those clients are being screwed—it’s because Donald J. Trump made them do it.

At that point, all hell will break loose.

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