Former Aetna Chief Reverses Obamacare Support

Monday, 18 Jun 2012 11:23 AM

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A former CEO and chairman of one of the country’s biggest managed healthcare companies is reversing course on Obamacare, saying that the legislation raises serious constitutional concerns.

In a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, Ron Williams, who served as both chairman and CEO of Aetna, said the Obamacare plan is not workable and that insurance would become unaffordable. His Op-Ed was headlined: "Why I No Longer Support the Health Insurance Mandate."

“A workable solution used by many states is a high-risk insurance pool funded by
broad-based taxes,” Williams wrote. “But Congress and the president chose to require health-insurance companies to guarantee issue—that is, to insure anyone at anytime.”

“This approach encourages people to only purchase insurance when care is needed,” he wrote. “Insurance does not work if you only pay two months of premiums and receive hundreds of thousands of dollars of healthcare. This is the equivalent of getting a free ride. Under such a system, consumers would end up paying more to offset the added costs of free riders. Insurance would soon become unaffordable.”

Williams wrote that as he studied the arguments for and against the individual mandate, “it became clear to me that the legislation raises serious constitutional concerns.” He said Obama’s mandate should have been framed as a traditional tax, which would have bolstered its constitutionality.

More alarming was the mandate on the failure to buy insurance, Williams wrote.

“Most seriously, Congress insisted on describing personal inactivity—in this case, the failure to purchase insurance—as interstate commerce within its regulatory reach. Americans were alarmed, rightly, that this could empower future legislatures to mandate that citizens engage in activities none of us would think reasonable today.”

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the 2010 healthcare reform law this week.

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