Obamacare architect Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel blamed Republicans, specifically Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), on Wednesday for premium hikes resulting from President Obama’s signature legislation.
Prior to Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly interviewing Emanuel, Fox’s Trace Gallagher highlighted that Aetna, one of the largest health insurers, said policy holders were becoming sicker and more expensive than previously anticipated. Aetna also said the lack of young and healthy policy holders is making it impossible to provide affordable and high quality healthcare.
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"After losing $433 million over the past two years starting in 2017, Aetna will stop selling Obamacare in 11 of the 15 states it now serves. United Healthcare, the nation’s largest insurer, says it lost $1 billion over the past two years and in 2017 it too will exit most healthcare exchanges," Gallagher said.
Kelly asked Emanuel about Gallagher’s preview and whether his previous statements were wrong about how Obamacare would be a "stable" way to buy health insurance.
Emanuel accused Gallagher of "cherrypicking" the most extreme examples, but admitted that some of the premiums had increased more than others.
"Fifty plus percent," Kelly interjected.
"The premium hikes are because they came in. They did miscalibrate the market. They were trying to get market share. It is a correction. And you know, it is a problem that we do need to address. There’s no doubt. It needs to be addressed," Emanuel said.
Emanuel added that the premium hikes were not across the board and the average premium hike is not higher than 15 percent.
"But the on average business doesn’t help the person in Arizona County who’s got a 51 percent hike in their premiums or the people in Tennessee with a 62 percent hike in their premiums," Kelly said.
Emanuel said Kelly was only identifying one product, but Kelly responded that there was only one insurer in some of the counties that were facing premium hikes.
Emanuel accused of Kelly of cherrypicking again, and she repeated that the average does not mean anything to the policy holders facing high costs.
After Emanuel could not respond to Kelly’s assertion, he shifted the blame for the premium hikes to Republicans.
"Republicans bear some of the responsibility for this. Remember, Marco Rubio eliminated some of the risk adjustment that actually buffered and helped the insurance companies in this situation," Emanuel said.
Kelly responded that there was "plenty" of blame to go around, but Emanuel said Republicans are the ones who should be blamed.
"You are an architect on the law, sir. Let’s just start with you and when I get Marco Rubio here, we will talk to him. You’re the architect. You said it was going to be stable. What we are hearing today from the chief executive of the National Association of Health Underwriters is in many states the individual market is in shambles. shambles," Kelly said.
"Okay. One of the things we built into the law was various ways of providing risk corridors and risk adjustment so that insurers would be protected against getting too many sick people, which is the heart of the problem," Emanuel said.
Emanuel said Rubio and Republicans took these risk protections away and that Obamacare would be stable if they had not changed the protections.
"Okay, I get it. So it’s Marco Rubio and the Republicans," Kelly said.
"They bear a major responsibility," Emanuel responded.
Obamacare is back in the spotlight after former Democratic President Bill Clinton criticized the legislation while campaigning for his wife and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Flint, Michigan.
"So you’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care and then the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It’s the craziest thing in the world," Clinton said.
Obama is a key surrogate for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and will be critical in helping her attract African American voters.