In a private meeting with President Donald Trump on Tuesday, Anthem's CEO Joseph Swedish sought to ensure that Republicans adequately fund Medicaid and continue the cost sharing subsidies that help consumers afford insurance.
Swedish also discussed with Trump and HHS Secretary Tom Price parts of the American Health Care Act that Anthem would “like to see enhanced,” and the “elimination of the taxes, elimination of the fees” that it hopes will remain in the final draft, Anthem CFO John Gallina said Wednesday during the Barclays Global Healthcare Conference in Miami.
It's likely that Anthem is playing ball with the Trump administration in hopes that the GOP repeal bill will include policies that benefit the insurer. So far, Anthem is getting its wish. Anthem also hopes the Trump administration will influence the U.S. Justice Department to green light its merger with reluctant partner, Cigna. Anthem is trying to overturn a February preliminary injunction blocking that merger.
Most health insurers have been tight-lipped about House Republicans' bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. A few have been critical.
Mario Molina, the CEO of Medicaid managed care insurer Molina, said the GOP bill would drive up premiums and destabilize the marketplace. And the industry's biggest lobbying group, America's Health Insurance Plans, urged Republicans to rethink the bill's changes to Medicaid financing and tax credits.
Anthem, however, was quick to publicly backthe repeal bill, saying it would benefit insurers and consumers by ensuring health plans stay in the individual marketplace and provide consumers with insurance options.
Gallina said during the conference that Anthem feels “very good, very encouraged by the fact that the president and his team are listening and actually making changes based on feedback that the industry is providing.”
He noted several changes the Trump administration proposed to shore up the individual market, including shortening the open enrollment period and making it harder for people to sign up for coverage during special enrollment periods.
“Those are some of the things that we've been asking the administration for over three years to really take seriously,” Gallina said. “And the new administration actually implemented them within three weeks.”
Anthem sells plans on exchanges in 14 states. Gallina said the marketplace has been profitable for Anthem and said he expects to break even in 2017.
Insurers have complainedthat they can't decide whether to offer plans in the individual market in 2018 without knowing whether policies will be put in place to stabilize the market.
In February, Swedish told investors that it would think about “extracting” itself from the exchanges if it didn't see some signs of stability.