HHS Secretary Lauds Lower ACA Premiums In Nashville While Renewing Case For Repeal | Nashville Public Radio

HHS Secretary Lauds Lower ACA Premiums In Nashville While Renewing Case For Repeal

Sep 27, 2018

The Secretary of Health and Human Services addressed Nashville health care executives Thursday, announcing that premiums for individual plans on the Affordable Care Act will drop for the first time. Alex Azar said the rates, nationwide, dipped 2 percent after consistent year-over-year increases. Tennessee dropped even more, for the first time.

"The president who was supposedly sabotaging the Affordable Care Act is proving better at managing it than the president who wrote the law," he said.

Azar credited the expanded access to "short-term limited duration insurance," which can be 50 percent cheaper than ACA-regulated plans but has far less coverage.

Still, Azar also told the Nashville Health Care Council gathered at Lipscomb University that he thinks the Affordable Care Act needs to be repealed, saying it is "not fixed or even fixable."

The crowd did not applaud. Locally-based for-profit hospital chains lobbied for the ACA and continue to support the law, which has provided them with more insured patients.   

"Obviously, as an industry, we've been supporting the Affordable Care Act," HCA CEO Milton Johnson told WPLN. "It provides more coverage, which we think is a good thing for our nation, a good thing for our communities, and we're going to continue to support coverage for all."

Johnson and other hospital executives are more in agreement with Secretary Azar on "Medicare for all," which he spent half of his 22-minute speech criticizing.

A couple of weeks ago, President Obama called "Medicare for all" a good idea. And since then, Democrats have started campaigning on it again. Secretary Azar says it may sound good, since seniors tend to like their coverage. But he calls it unworkable, given that Medicare pays so much less to doctors than private insurance does.

Instead, Azar says even more control needs to be given to states.