One health insurance company will continue selling individual policies on Iowa’s Affordable Care Act exchange next year, but Medica proposes a rate increase of 43.5 percent. If the company pulls out, some 72,000 Iowans would have no options.
Two other providers, Aetna and Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, abandonded the exchange this spring. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’s working to return one of them to the fold.
Grassley says, “I and Joni Ernst and members of the Iowa congressional delegation are working with state government, particularly the commissioner of insurance in Iowa, and Wellmark to get Wellmark back in by asking for what’s called a 1332 waiver.”
The state is proposing a “stopgap” plan that would revise the ACA and keep insurers on the state’s exchange. Wellmark officials say the company’s reentry would hinge on federal approval of that stopgap. It’s a complicated process, according to Grassley, who says if they can’t sort it all out soon, “we won’t get this job done.”
“But if they can find a way to short circuit the 1332 process, we could have Wellmark back in the market if we get this all done sometime during the month of August,” Grassley says. “Later, Wellmark can’t deliver and they would continue to be out of the exchange.”
The U.S. House passed a replacement plan for the ACA weeks ago, a plan many senators rejected. The Senate, according to Grassley, is making significant progress on its own replacement plan.
Grassley says, “According to our leader, McConnell, and he could be wrong, but as of now, he’s planning to get it done before our July 4th break.” Grassley, a Republican, was quick to place blame on the health plan which was initially devised by Democrats.
Grassley says, “The entire situation with premium hikes and few options I think is clear demonstration that Obamacare has failed to meet the needs and not to meet the promises that were made when it was passed.” He says he emphasizes that point repeatedly because his office is still being flooded with emails from constituents who beg that Congress not touch the ACA.