Feb. 28--The leaders of two major Hartford-area insurance companies who have been critical of Obamacare were among a group of about a dozen industry executives to meet with President Donald Trump Monday. The meeting came on a day when Trump said the insurance market is "going to absolutely implode" and later promised "something special" in his health care overhaul plans when he addresses a joint session of Congress Tuesday.
Mark Bertolini, the chief executive of Hartford-based Aetna Inc. who previously described Obamacare as being in a "death spiral," said he looks forward to "continuing to work with the administration and both parties in Congress on a broader range" of health care solutions.
The meeting also included the CEO of Bloomfield-based Cigna, David Cordani. Cigna did not offer a statement following the meeting.
Trump has been speaking for months about his desire to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a new law. Many major insurance companies have also scaled back their involvement in the market.
"We must work together to save Americans from Obamacare," Trump said.
Humana Inc., which insures about 150,000 people on the ACA exchanges, announced Feb. 14 it would exit the exchanges in 2018.
Bertolini has said he expects "a lot of markets without coverage" beginning next year, though he said Aetna has not decided if it will quit the ACA entirely. It has already exited exchanges in hundreds of markets and faces losses climbing to as much as $900 million a year, double what Aetna posted last year, he said.
Trump spoke optimistically about his new plan, though he declined to offer specifics.
"The new plan will be a great plan for the patients, for the people and hopefully for the companies. Going to be a very competitive plan. And costs will come down and I think the health care will go up very, very substantially," Trump said Monday. "We've taken the best of everything we could take." His administration has promised a plan by mid-March.
Trump said at a White House meeting with dozens of governors prior to meeting with insurers that he hoped to overhaul the American tax system, but that was a "tiny little ant" compared to what he would need to do to remake the health care measure. After the meeting, he said his administration and Republicans "are going to hopefully work with the Democrats because ultimately we're all people that love this country and we want to do the right thing, including reforms like expanded health care savings accounts."
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, fresh from meetings in Washington with other governors and Trump, criticized Republicans on health care policy as Congress debates the future of the Affordable Care Act.
Malloy said he believes Trump and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives are in "broad agreement" to reduce access to Medicaid that would be "disastrous to thousands and thousands of people in Connecticut."
The Democratic governor said Republicans will reduce poverty-level thresholds providing access to Medicaid while cutting taxes for the "very wealthy."
"We can't do tax reform until we do Medicaid," Malloy said of the Republicans' message.
Trump had his first major meeting with governors as Congress prepares to move forward to repeal and replace the health care law, one of Trump's main campaign promises. Governors have raised concerns that the changes could undermine their efforts to expand Medicaid in their states and leave them stuck with ballooning payments.
Malloy said Democratic governors are "united in opposition" to changes that would undermine Medicaid expansion. And he said Republican Govs. John Kasich of Ohio and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts have signaled that the GOP is not 100 percent behind efforts by Trump and congressional Republicans on the future of Obamacare.
Kasich and Baker have recently questioned efforts to roll back key aspects of the health care law enacted in 2010.
Reporting by The Associated Press and Bloomberg is included in this report.
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