Wolf Administration’s Insurance Commissioner in Letter to Federal Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price: Consumer Costs Will Increase if Stability Not Achieved Immediately
July 31, 2017
Harrisburg, Pa. – Wolf Administration Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller today issued a letter to federal Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price detailing the urgent need for stability in the individual health insurance market as health insurers prepare to finalize rates for 2018 individual and small group insurance plans.
“Commissioner Miller has been a stalwart steward of Pennsylvanians’ right to affordable health insurance, maintaining close contact with insurers and representing the commonwealth as an expert in testimony before the U.S. House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee,” Governor Wolf said. “Her outreach to Secretary Price further conveys her and the department’s commitment to respectful representation of each of our citizens in Washington D.C. I fully support the messages in this letter that warn of dire consequences of removing any cost-sharing reductions.”
“I write you today out of serious concern for the future of Pennsylvania’s individual health insurance market and fear for the 506,000 Pennsylvanians who rely on it to purchase quality, affordable health insurance coverage,” wrote Commissioner Miller. “Without a commitment to make cost-sharing reductions to insurers for the entire 2018 policy year, I will be forced to permit our insurers to build the instability caused by this uncertainty into their rates.”
Pennsylvania insurers provided additional information when filing 2018 health insurance rate requests about the estimated impact of potential changes to the Affordable Care Act on rates. Based on their estimates, failing to make payments to insurers for cost-sharing reductions would force insurers to request a statewide average 20.3 percent increase rather than 8.8 percent statewide average that was filed with the department in May.
Commissioner Miller noted that if the Trump Administration does not commit now to making payments for the entire 2018 policy year, she will be forced to allow higher rates to prevent insurers ending participation in the market due to uncertainty.
“Failing to allow insurers to appropriately rate for this uncertainty would almost assuredly result in insurers choosing not to sell policies in Pennsylvania for 2018, an outcome I believe is unacceptable for the hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians who rely on this market for coverage,” said Commissioner Miller.
She stressed that by committing to funding cost-sharing reductions, the Trump Administration has power to help stabilize the individual market and help relieve costs on consumers around the country – something they say they would like to accomplish.
“It is imperative that we do not squander this opportunity, and I truly hope the Trump Administration understands the power it holds in this situation. We all say we want to protect the consumers we serve from rising costs, and this is the administration’s opportunity to make good on that promise,” said Commissioner Miller. “If this does not happen, Pennsylvania consumers will know who failed to protect them. Do not let Pennsylvanians bear the cost of your indecision.”
Read the full text of the letter here.