Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish 'extremely concerned' about what GOP healthcare bill will mean for members

Joseph Swedish
Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish has concerns about how high-risk pools would work under the GOP's plan to overhaul the individual insurance markets.

Though he was one of the few healthcare executives to support the American Health Care Act, Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish now says he’s worried about how such a healthcare policy overhaul may affect his customers.

It will be a “tall order” for organizations like Anthem to help Americans adjust to whatever legislation ends up passing, Swedish said in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Swedish is specifically concerned about what changes in Medicaid funding will mean for the poor and vulnerable. He also worried about whether the GOP’s final legislation will include adequate funding and “rules of engagement” for high-risk pools—one proposed strategy to help people with preexisting conditions find affordable health coverage.

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“We’re extremely concerned about our membership being supported in terms of access and affordability as well as the ability to get to high-quality healthcare,” Swedish told the WSJ.

In some ways, Swedish’s comments contradict a letter that he sent to congressional leaders in March, which stated that the AHCA “addresses the challenges immediately facing the individual market and will ensure more affordable health plan choices for consumers in the short term.”

Even so, that letter also outlined other steps he wanted policymakers to take to shore up the individual markets, such as continuing funding for cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments through 2019.

Anthem, one of the major players on the exchanges, has already announced it will pull out of the Ohio market next year. But it is still deciding what to do about the remaining 13 states where it offers exchange plans. Uncertainty over the future of CSR payments and the health insurer tax also makes it especially difficult to decide how to price plans next year, Swedish noted.  

While other major insurers have announced plans to pull out of certain states or withdraw from the marketplaces entirely in 2018, Centene said Tuesday that it will actually expand its exchange footprint.

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