Trump Responsible for Lower Premiums?
| Shannon Firth, MedPage Today – HHS Sec. Alex Azar announced Thursday that insurance premiums on the federal exchange for benchmark plans are expected to fall by 2% nationally and and went on to credit President Trump for the decline, as well as what Azar said were numerous other improvements in the nation’s healthcare system.
Azar also ridiculed the “Medicare for All” proposals backed by many Democrats, in a speech he delivered in Nashville that was covered in detail by MedPage Today.
The secretary’s assertions did not sit well with supporters of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicare for All contacted by MedPage Today.
“When you make a change in something as big as healthcare financing, you’re not going to see the results immediately,” said Carol Paris, MD, a retired psychiatrist and president of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), in a phone interview.
“It’s more likely that [President Trump’s] defunding the cost-sharing reductions created so much uncertainty in the insurance market last year that [insurers] set their premiums higher than they might have otherwise to give them some wiggle room.”
Insurers were overcautious and set their premiums too high, she added. “What we’re really seeing this year is the markets correcting themselves for chaos created by the Trump administration last year.”
Manan Trivedi, MD, president of the National Physicians Alliance, also questioned Azar’s logic:
“ACA premiums are stabilizing despite the Trump administration … Americans could have seen premium costs go down in actual dollars if Trump and Azar didn’t recklessly repeal the individual mandate, allow the sale of stripped-down, short-term, junk insurance plans, and refuse to reimburse insurance companies for discounts they are required by law to offer to low-income customers,” he said in an email. Read more.