Governor Wolf and Acting Insurance Commissioner Statement: Washington Sabotaging Pennsylvanians’ Health Insurance

October 13, 2017

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman today issued the following statement on Washington causing health insurance rate increases:

Governor Wolf Statement:

“The President and Republicans in Washington are doing everything in their power to sabotage our health insurance markets and cause chaos for Pennsylvania families, seniors, and people with pre-existing conditions.

“Republicans in Congress have scuttled a bipartisan effort to stabilize markets and control health care costs. Now, President Trump is actively working to undermine the market and cause rate increases, raise costs on seniors, and take away protections for people with pre-existing conditions who need the individual market to get coverage.

“Pennsylvanians deserve better from Washington. Time and again, my administration has made clear the consequences of Washington health care sabotage. Washington has not listened. Congress has ignored bipartisan governors, insurance commissioners, insurance providers, and nearly every expert that has warned of the effects this chaos will have on their families, seniors and people with pre-existing conditions.”

Acting Commissioner Altman:

“Through these actions, the Trump Administration continues to ignore the obvious issues in the individual market and is instead choosing to further destabilize the individual market and disrupt the small group insurance market – a market that has, to date, remained stable.

“Cost-sharing reductions (CSR) are not a bailout to insurance companies – they’re part of an agreement to help lower-income consumers around the country afford health insurance with lower out-of-pocket costs like co-pays and deductibles. Insurers are still required to offer these lower costs whether cost-sharing reductions are paid or not, and we have worked closely with our individual market participants to ensure adequate rates are in place for the 2018 plan year. However, by choosing this moment to make a definitive statement that CSR payments cannot legally be made, it reneges on expectations insurers had when establishing rates for 2017.

“Further, by directing three federal agencies to change the rules and loosen standards under which small employers and associations can participate in association health plans, the executive order will further erode market stability and likely result in healthier individuals leaving the traditional small group insurance market. This could ultimately reduce the number of people in the small group insurance market and degrade the risk pool.

“The President praised his actions as giving people access to more plans at lower prices, but he avoided mentioning the fact that premiums have already increased because of the games he has played with CSR funding.  He neglected to mention that association health plans are not subject to state patient protections like coverage requirements, grievance procedures, and financial solvency requirements.

“He glorified sales of association health plans across state lines, and ignored, as I have said previously, the reality that interstate insurance sales prevent state regulators from protecting consumers who purchase a plan sold in a different state. Pennsylvanians have had experience with the dangers of these plans. My department has previously had to shut down association health plans due to millions of dollars of unpaid claims. If we lose our regulatory authority as the order suggests, how are we going to be able to protect Pennsylvania consumers?”

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