My take over at healthinsurance.org…Â Some tidbits below.
This Monday, Aetna announced that it will reduce the number of counties where it offers marketplace coverage from 778 down to 242.Â Aetnaâ€™s announcement sent shockwaves through the health policy world. The timing also raised eyebrows among ACA supporters wondering if this was deliberate payback for the Justice Departmentâ€™s recent decision to oppose Aetnaâ€™s proposed $37 billion acquisition of Humana.
This April, Aetnaâ€™s CEO Mark Bertolini told investors that the marketplaces were â€œa good investment.â€ But then the Huffington Postâ€˜s Jonathan Cohn and Jeffrey Young excavated a July 5letter to the Justice Departmentâ€™s antitrust division, in which Bertolini wrote:
[If the Department of Justice blocks the proposed merger] it is very likely that we would need to leave the public exchange business entirely… . By contrast, if the deal proceeds without the diverted time and energy associated with litigation, we would explore how to devote a portion of the additional synergies (which are larger than we had planned for when announcing the deal) to supporting even more public exchange coverage over the next few years.
Nice ObamaCare marketplaces you have there, Mr. President.
The timing and tone of Aetnaâ€™s announcement seem dubious. But itâ€™s depressing to see liberals and conservatives respond so predictably along the grooves of our own partisanship to a more complicated situation. If marketplaces were profitable, Aetna would not have done this, and we wouldnâ€™t have cared if they did…
Marketplaces face real challenges that require real adjustment. SoÂ I offer several ideas about how to improve them here.