Blue Cross warns Senate on Obamacare individual mandate repeal

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Blue Cross warns Senate on Obamacare individual mandate repeal

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Carolyn Kaster
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. walks from his office to the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 26. It was the second day of debate on Senate Republicans’ effort to repeal Obamacare. A vote to repeal the individual mandate and other provisions failed 45-55 Wednesday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia is the last company remaining to offer insurance on the Obamacare exchange for all 159 counties in Georgia. Wednesday, they took part in a message to the Senate on the dangers of repealing the Obamacare individual mandate.

The mandate says that every person must have health care insurance. It’s one of the core tenets of the Affordable Care Act. And repealing it is one of the core tenets of Republicans’ effort to repeal Obamacare.

On Wednesday, the day of the Blue Cross message, such an effort to repeal the mandate failed solidly in the senate, 45-55.

Blue Cross laid out the business case for the mandate in its message:

“If there is no longer a requirement for everyone to purchase coverage, it is critical that any legislation include strong incentives for people to obtain health insurance and keep it year-round. A system that allows people to purchase coverage only when they need it drives up costs for everyone.”

Many conservatives say mandating that people have insurance is an overstepping of the government, however.

Blue Cross also addressed subsidies that have made out-of-pocket costs more affordable for some lower-income customers on the exchange. President Trump has threatened not to pay the subsidies and Republicans in Congress are fighting them:

“Immediate funding for the cost-sharing reduction program also is essential to help those individuals most in need with their out-of-pocket costs, so they can access medical services. And dedicated funds must be provided to help pay for the care of those with significant medical conditions.”

Blue Cross in Georgia recently signaled its intent to stay in the Obamacare exchange market, but to raise rates here by about 40 percent.

The message was from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, a group of BCBS of Georgia and 35 other BCBS companies.

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