Insurers’ Policy Warnings Raise Stakes in Health Fight – Melanie Evans June 30, 2017 7:30 p.m. ET


Letters to some consumers say plans will be terminated at year-end

Insurers’ withdrawal notices are causing heartburn among patients, according to insurance agents and other industry officials. Here, a blood-pressure check in 2013.

Insurers’ withdrawal notices are causing heartburn among patients, according to insurance agents and other industry officials. Here, a blood-pressure check in 2013.Photo: Toby Talbot/Associated Press

Hundreds of thousands of consumers across the country are getting letters from insurers warning that their health plans bought under the Affordable Care Act will be terminated at year-end, raising alarm at a politically sensitive moment when Senate Republicans are struggling to craft their own health-care legislation.

As lawmakers head off for their July 4 recess, conservative Republicans on Friday revived a proposal to quickly repeal the 2010 health-care law and come up with a replacement later, a surprise move reflecting the fractured state of the Senate GOP and the frustration felt by some conservatives about the pace of the Republican health push. The initiative, quickly seized on by President Donald Trump, renewed an idea that earlier had been discarded as politically and practically unworkable, and some Republicans on Capitol Hill said the idea was unlikely to get sufficient support this time either.

The repeal-first approach reopens an old skirmish between Republican centrists and conservatives, whose disagreements over everything from the scope and timeline of an ACA repeal to the future of Medicaid and the nature of health insurance have hamstrung the party.

Now, lawmakers heading home for recess have another potential headache: the letters to consumers sent to comply with rules requiring insurers to give policyholders notice of at least 180 days, or about six months, before they pull out of a state’s individual insurance market. That puts the deadline in early July for a plan that runs until the end of December.

In many cases, planned withdrawals from certain ACA marketplaces by major insurers, including Aetna Inc., Humana Inc. and Anthem Inc., have been disclosed. But the letters may be the first affirmation for many consumers that their plans will end.

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