In this morning’s hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, President Trump’s nominee for HHS Secretary, Tom Price, had an exchange with Kansas Senator Pat Roberts and outlined why the ACA isn’t working but a new approach will ensure “that the American people have access to the highest quality care that’s affordable for them.”
SENATOR ROBERTS: Good doctor, thank you for coming. I think it’s important to make clear right off the bat that even if Congress and the incoming Administration were to do nothing, absolutely nothing, amending or repealing parts of the Affordable Care Act, the law is not working, it’s collapsing. The prices are unaffordable, the market is nearly nonexistent, few options to several states and counties. This year, one out of every three counties in this country only has one insurer offering coverage on the exchange.
What tools do you have or will you have when you are confirmed, which could be utilized over the next couple of months, to provide stability and improve the individual insurance markets. Make them more appealing so that insurance carriers will want to come back and provide more coverage options as we transition away from the Affordable Health Care Act?
TOM PRICE: Well thank you Senator. I think it’s incredibly important for us to admit here what the American people know, and that is that this law isn’t working. Certainly isn’t working for folks in the individual and small group market.
You got premiums that are up significantly. They were supposed to go down by $2,500, now they are up more than $2,500 on average. You’ve got deductibles that escalated to $6,000 to $12,000. You have got, as you mentioned, states where there is only one insurance provider carrier. You’ve got one third of the counties in this country where there is only one insurance carrier.
This may be working for government, may be working for insurance companies, but it’s not working for patients.
And so what we need to do is an effort to try to reconstitute the individual and small group market and that begins, I believe, by providing stability in our conversation and in our tone, and one of the goals that I have is to lower the temperature in this debate, is to say to those providing the insurance products across this country, we understand, we hear the challenges that you have. They are already exiting the market.
What we we need to do is to say, there’s help on the way to allow us to reconstitute the individual and small group market that allows for folks to gain the kind of coverage that they want for themselves and for their family, not that the government forces them to buy, that allows them to purchase coverage in a reasonable amount, that makes it so they don’t have deductibles that are through the roof, where they don’t have the ability to pay the premiums and the deductible as well.
So, there are so many things that we ought to be focusing on to make certain, again, that the American people have access to the highest quality care that’s affordable for them.