Statement on the American Health Care Act from Paul Markovich, President and CEO, Blue Shield of California
As we consider the renewed effort to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it is important to acknowledge both its successes and its flaws. The ACA took important steps toward improving our nation’s health care system, providing financial support for those who most need help, requiring health insurers to take all paying customers irrespective of their health status, and ensuring that health plans offer real coverage. As a result, 20 million more people have coverage in the United States. In California, we reduced the uninsured by more than half while limiting average rate increases in our state-based exchange to about 7 percent per year.
Still, the ACA is flawed and needs to be fixed. It doesn’t do enough to control costs and reduce health care spending, leaving an unsustainable burden on state and federal budgets and on many consumers. There are also numerous states without a sustainable individual market and with too few insurers serving those consumers.
The current, amended version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) has some positive features, such as funding to help stabilize the market during a transition period to 2020. We appreciate the effort to bring attention to the need to make funding health care more sustainable for the federal government.
But the AHCA as currently drafted is flawed as well. The tax credits it provides do not vary based on either a person’s income or the cost of care where they live. There is no help with deductibles and co-pays for those with lower incomes. Millions of people, particularly older Americans, would not be able to afford health insurance or to get care when they need it. In addition, the recent amendments could return us to a time when people who were born with a birth defect or who became sick could not purchase or afford insurance, and when benefits were not there when people needed them the most. In the Medicaid program, the reduction in Federal support from 90% to 50% for the expanded population in California would put a burden on the state budget that would be impossible for our state, resulting in millions more people without access to care.
For those reasons, we cannot support the AHCA in its current form. However, we do believe a bipartisan solution is both essential and possible. We look forward to working with the Trump Administration and both parties in Congress toward reforms that build on the successes of the ACA and address the problems that remain, so that we can continue to fulfill our mission of providing sustainably affordable health care to all Californians that is worthy of our family and friends.
About Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California, an independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a nonprofit health plan with 4 million members, 6,800 employees and more than $17 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1939 and headquartered in San Francisco, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates provide health, dental, vision, Medicaid and Medicare health care service plans in California. The company’s mission is to ensure all Californians have access to high-quality care at an affordable price. Blue Shield has contributed more than $450 million to Blue Shield of California Foundation since 2002. Contact your local agent or broker about Blue Shield of California products and services, or visit www.blueshieldca.com.
Steve Shivinsky, Corporate Communications