The Hill's Viebeck: ACA Will Hit States With Older Populations Hard

Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 04:27 PM

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States that have older, more health-challenged populations will see their health insurance rates under the Affordable Care Act skyrocket, according to Elise Viebeck, a staff writer for The Hill.

"We've heard from some insurers … in states where they believe that they're going to have to raise prices," Viebeck told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"This is likely to hit states with older, sicker populations,  states that are less populous, so people there could see their prices rise."

Viebeck said Americans in those states could be forced to switch to cheaper plans if the rates grow too much.

"This is a big problem for the administration.... This is an election year and any anecdote about problems with the healthcare law is going to be used to hammer Democratic candidates," she said.

Story continues below video.

Viebeck said that insurance companies have traditionally raised their rates — long before the enactment of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform.

"Certainly that's going to continue, but a lot of these firms are citing specific provisions of the healthcare law that they feel are forcing them to raise prices," she said.

"For example, the idea that healthcare coverage now needs to include a certain level of minimum benefits: Maternity care, mental healthcare, that kind of thing.

"Some will argue it's worth having maternity care in all policies regardless in order to spread out those prices, but certainly that's causing a lot of criticism for the administration and insurers themselves, they've very upset."

Viebeck said insurers have also been affected by the president's continual tweaking of the law without the approval of Congress. Several mandates have been delayed over the past few months.

"There were a couple of weeks, particularly in December, when we were hearing almost every day from the White House that something was going to go differently about the rollout, something different about the enrollment period," she said.

"Folks that I talked to within the industry said, 'Hey, listen, it's no surprise to us that we're going to have to pass along these costs because they were wildly unexpected and they really thought the rollout would be going better than it did.

"It might be going better now, but certainly three or four months ago it was a disaster and that's what insurance companies are citing."

Viebeck said Republicans continue to have problems about how the administration is selling the law to consumers.

"We saw recently Obama with Zach Galafianakis, the comedian, on the 'Between Two Ferns' show and that got a lot of criticism from the right. People thought that it was inappropriate for the president to be making moves like this and any taxpayer dollars that were involved were misspent," she said.

"There have been a lot of that in the past — administrations going into the pop culture in order to sell themselves and their initiatives, so I don't think we should be surprised. Certainly there's a valid debate about whether it's appropriate.

"They probably realized around the month of October that they were really going to need to step up their game if they were going to save themselves from the botched roll out."

See the “Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV each weekday live by clicking here now.                               

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