U.S. Senate Committee on Finance

05/15/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/16/2018 23:28

Wyden, Merkley Respond to Oregon Proposed Premium Rate Increases

May 15,2018

Washington, D.C. - Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today issued a statement after Oregon announced insurance companies' proposed premium rates for plan year 2019. These rate proposals will be reviewed by the state and finalized later in the year.

'Despite Oregon's efforts to stop the Republican campaign of health care sabotage, families are still facing premium increases,' Wyden said. 'Oregon banned Trump's proposal for junk plans and adopted a forward-thinking State Innovation Waiver that will help keep costs down, but Oregonians are still paying too much for health care. Trump's attempts to undermine the individual health care market on behalf of special interests instead of working on a bipartisan basis to make health care affordable are coming at the expense of Oregonians.'

'President Trump has conducted a ruthless war on health care for working Americans,' said Merkley. 'First, he tried to pass a plan that would have ripped health care away from 18 to 30 million Americans and devastated rural hospitals and clinics. After being thwarted in that effort, he's repeatedly sabotaged our health care system - destroying the individual mandate, promoting short-term junk plans, and scuttling strategies like reinsurance and cost-sharing reductions that help keep costs down. The results are clear: In many parts of the nation, we're seeing double-digit premium increases-even up to 90% for some plans. Fortunately, under Governor Brown's leadership, Oregon has done everything it can to push back at the state level, and Oregonians are seeing much lower premium increases than many other Americans. These rising costs are still too high, though, and we need to take on health care affordability and the skyrocketing drug prices that are helping to drive premium increases.'

Since the president took office, his administration and Republicans in Congress have engaged in a non-stop effort to sabotage the individual health insurance market and the consumer protections created by the Affordable Care Act. By opening the doors to junk plans that let insurance companies deny care and charge whatever they want, cutting funds for outreach and enrollment that help connect people with real health care, and numerous other harmful steps, the Trump administration is on a political crusade with no concern for the impact on families' health care costs.

Oregon has worked to shield residents from Trump sabotage. The state blocked Trump's proposal to allow junk plans to be sold as regular insurance and received a State Innovation (Section 1332) Waiver to establish a state reinsurance program that helps keep premiums lower in the individual market by paying down some of the most expensive medical bills. These significant steps muted some of the effects of Washington Republicans' reckless attempts at sabotage, but today's news demonstrates that states can only go so far when the resources of the federal government are used to undermine an individual health care market and weaken strong consumer protections.

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