ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Many of you may have believed politicians in Washington when Obamacare passed and you were told you would be able to keep your private health insurance. If you are one of those people, then I strongly encourage you to pay close attention to what is happening right now in Congress.
Most Americans can agree on one thing when it comes to Obamacare – changes must be made. However, one of the proposed changes will do more harm than good.
Some leaders in Congress recently introduced bills to gut something very important from the original law. They are seeking to get rid of a set of temporary protections that were put in place for private health insurers.
These protections were designed to make sure private insurers remained viable during the first few years of the law being in place. This is important as companies are being forced to accept very expensive and previously uninsurable customers.
The most important of these protections is the “risk corridor” program.
This is a temporary three-year program modeled after similar public-private programs, such as Medicare Prescription Drug, flood insurance and crop insurance. This temporary program eventually ends after insurers have had time to adjust to the reformed system and price their plans appropriately.
I am no fan of Obamacare and I have often discussed the need to fix it. However, we can’t do it by playing chicken with our private health insurers.
Republicans who are supporting this effort may have good intentions as they struggle to deal with a very bad bill that they never wanted in the first place. However, repealing the risk corridor program would only drive up premiums in the short term and also likely bring an end to the private health insurance industry in the long run.
This change would be bad for consumer choice and for New Mexicans who are already struggling under much higher health care costs. It would also hurt New Mexico’s economy, which quite frankly cannot survive another major hit to its private sector.
If our elected officials are opposed to Obamacare and want to repeal it, that’s fine. But they ought to think twice before risking the collapse of the entire private insurance industry in their zeal to get it done.
I strongly encourage our federal delegation to oppose repealing the risk corridor and instead focus on changes that will benefit consumers.