Alaska Obamacare market facing total collapse

There is only one, lone insurance company willing to sell Obamacare policies to Alaska residents and they are in danger of fleeing the failing market.

To forestall that, Alaska Republicans did the unthinkable; they authorized up to $55 million to prop up the market so that residents would not lose their insurance coverage.

Politico:

A bill passed by the heavily GOP state Legislature to shore up its lone surviving Obamacare insurer is awaiting the signature of Gov. Bill Walker, a Republican-turned-independent who was endorsed two years ago by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The legislation, originally proposed by Walker, sets up a $55 million fund — financed through an existing tax on all insurance companies — to subsidize enrollees’ costs as the state struggles with Obamacare price spikes and an exodus by all except one insurance company.

Alaska’s efforts reflect a pragmatic approach to what is arguably the biggest political conundrum facing Obamacare critics: How do you take away people’s benefits or, in this case, sit by while constituents cry foul as insurers flee a failing marketplace? Alaska lawmakers’ efforts also reflect some of the state’s unusually harsh demographic realities — a relatively small population with some of the highest health care costs in the nation.

But even as insurers around the country report major losses from Obamacare customers, no other state is considering such a step to prop up its insurance marketplace.

Republican state lawmakers, who sued Walker for expanding Medicaid under the health law, swear they remain opposed to Obamacare. But they say they're doing what's necessary to prevent health insurance premiums from spiraling out of control and letting thousands of people lose their coverage.

“What I’m getting — and I guarantee what the Alaska Legislature’s getting — is constituents pleading with them for help," Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) told POLITICO. “There’s been no state in the union more negatively impacted by Obamacare than Alaska."

The picture became particularly grim in Alaska, where the number of insurers offering plans to individuals is set to drop to one for 2017, and state officials warned that the remaining company couldn't realistically raise rates high enough to cover customers' medical bills. Walker, who is expected to sign the insurance fund into law in the coming days, said it will ensure that the 23,000 Alaskans enrolled in exchange plans won't suddenly lose their insurance.

This is where practical politics collides with ideology. It's the same collision that will occur in Washington if Republicans ever get their act together to either repeal and replace Obamacare, or just fiddle with many of its provisions.

Republicans have successfully run against Obamacare in the two previous mid term elections largely due to so many people losing their insurance, or seeing their rates skyrocket. While ideologically they remain unalterably opposed to Obamacare, most Republicans also recognize that any action they take that leads to widespread cancellations of policies would be politically disastrous. This makes the propping up of the insurance market in Alaska by Obamacare opponents an act of political expediency - in their eyes, distastefuil, but necessary.

It is likely that by election day, most Americans with Obamacare plans will have experienced severe sticker shock as state insurance boards will be authorizing double digit increases, with some of the Obamacare exchanges seeing rates rise up to 40%. 

How much a role this will play in the presidential election will depend on how Republicans try to tap the fear and outrage of voters over the slow motion collapse of Obamacare.

There is only one, lone insurance company willing to sell Obamacare policies to Alaska residents and they are in danger of fleeing the failing market.

To forestall that, Alaska Republicans did the unthinkable; they authorized up to $55 million to prop up the market so that residents would not lose their insurance coverage.

Politico:

A bill passed by the heavily GOP state Legislature to shore up its lone surviving Obamacare insurer is awaiting the signature of Gov. Bill Walker, a Republican-turned-independent who was endorsed two years ago by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The legislation, originally proposed by Walker, sets up a $55 million fund — financed through an existing tax on all insurance companies — to subsidize enrollees’ costs as the state struggles with Obamacare price spikes and an exodus by all except one insurance company.

Alaska’s efforts reflect a pragmatic approach to what is arguably the biggest political conundrum facing Obamacare critics: How do you take away people’s benefits or, in this case, sit by while constituents cry foul as insurers flee a failing marketplace? Alaska lawmakers’ efforts also reflect some of the state’s unusually harsh demographic realities — a relatively small population with some of the highest health care costs in the nation.

But even as insurers around the country report major losses from Obamacare customers, no other state is considering such a step to prop up its insurance marketplace.

Republican state lawmakers, who sued Walker for expanding Medicaid under the health law, swear they remain opposed to Obamacare. But they say they're doing what's necessary to prevent health insurance premiums from spiraling out of control and letting thousands of people lose their coverage.

“What I’m getting — and I guarantee what the Alaska Legislature’s getting — is constituents pleading with them for help," Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) told POLITICO. “There’s been no state in the union more negatively impacted by Obamacare than Alaska."

The picture became particularly grim in Alaska, where the number of insurers offering plans to individuals is set to drop to one for 2017, and state officials warned that the remaining company couldn't realistically raise rates high enough to cover customers' medical bills. Walker, who is expected to sign the insurance fund into law in the coming days, said it will ensure that the 23,000 Alaskans enrolled in exchange plans won't suddenly lose their insurance.

This is where practical politics collides with ideology. It's the same collision that will occur in Washington if Republicans ever get their act together to either repeal and replace Obamacare, or just fiddle with many of its provisions.

Republicans have successfully run against Obamacare in the two previous mid term elections largely due to so many people losing their insurance, or seeing their rates skyrocket. While ideologically they remain unalterably opposed to Obamacare, most Republicans also recognize that any action they take that leads to widespread cancellations of policies would be politically disastrous. This makes the propping up of the insurance market in Alaska by Obamacare opponents an act of political expediency - in their eyes, distastefuil, but necessary.

It is likely that by election day, most Americans with Obamacare plans will have experienced severe sticker shock as state insurance boards will be authorizing double digit increases, with some of the Obamacare exchanges seeing rates rise up to 40%. 

How much a role this will play in the presidential election will depend on how Republicans try to tap the fear and outrage of voters over the slow motion collapse of Obamacare.