Florida congressman not surprised by expected premium hikes under Obamacare

U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho says 2017 health coverage under Obamacare will continue to be a bitter, ballooning problem pill that’s poised to choke consumers.

With the nation’s health insurers expected this summer to seek sizable premium hikes for 2017, U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho said coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will continue to be a bitter, ballooning problem pill that’s poised to choke consumers.

“It’s a disaster and it’s only going to continue to get worse,” the Republican lawmaker who represents Florida’s 3rd District, told Florida Business Daily.

Overall, insurers returning to the HealthCare.gov marketplace that was put in place under the ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare, could seek state-by-state premium increases of roughly 14 percent to 30 percent, requests that will continue to go up for multiple reasons, Yoho said.

“You’re going to see more insurance companies pull out [of the online marketplace], which will create less of a pool of insurers," he said. "This thing is going to collapse on its own.” 

The Republican lawmaker last year and earlier this year voted in favor of the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, H.R. 3762, which would have repealed most of Obamacare and placed a moratorium on federal Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood, among other changes. While both the House and Senate passed H.R. 3762, the President vetoed the bill in January.

Yoho, a vocal advocate to replace Obamacare, has acknowledged that many Americans have received health care coverage under the ACA. More than 12 million people nationwide receive health care coverage via the online marketplace.

But at the same time, he said the law’s one-size-fits-all approach to changing the nation’s health care system has been a disaster and is unsustainable.

In fact, several recent reports released during the last week or so have shown that the majority of states expect premium and deductible increases for Obamacare benchmark silver insurance plans, which already have increased about 7 percent on average this year, according to federal data. The reports are coming out as state insurance departments start reviews of insurance companies’ proposed rates for 2017.

The ongoing problems for the online marketplace insurers revolve around lower-than-expected enrollment, more-than-anticipated sick customers, and an unstable internal stabilization system.

“This is the wrong way to do business and the Republicans stood up against this and we fought it," Yoho said. "But we’ve also been partly to blame because we didn’t push the alternatives that we had hard enough.” 

That’s actually been one of Yoho’s “big bones of contention” with former Republican House Speaker John Boehner and former House GOP leader Eric Cantor since he became a member of Congress in 2013, he said.

“You can repeal all you want, but until you bring up a replacement there is nothing to take to the American people. It’s like a sinking ship – you’re saying swim over here and you don’t have a life line for them to transition,” explained Yoho.

He added that Obamacare is not the panacea that the White House promised.

“It was forced down our throats with assurances like, ‘If you like your insurance you can keep it,’ or ‘If you like your doctors, you can keep them.’ It has been a disaster,” Yoho said.

One alternative plan, Yoho suggested, would be to incentivize the majority of people who continue to be responsible for their own health care, incentivize businesses to offer more health care, increase the amount of the health savings account, and open up insurance borders to give states the option to market across state lines better than they do now.

“Let’s go back to 2009, pre-Obamacare,” the congressman said.

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