Massachusetts’ firebrand first-term Senator Elizabeth Warren is on a march, foe in sight. The woman from Oklahoma, who many wanted to run for president this year but who instead is a powerful surrogate for Hillary Clinton, is demanding explanation from insurance giant Aetna about pulling out of health care exchanges organized via Obamacare, officially called the Patient Protection and Affordability Act [ACA].
Warren can’t be seen by Wall Street as anything other than a crusading Joan of Arc ready to bear down on them, guided by faith but holding a sword. Is she crazy not-in-love with them, yes. But aren’t all conquering heroes a little crazy in some way?
Included on the list of signing senators is fellow Democrat and kindred spirit, Sherrod Brown, Ohio’s senior, two-term Washington senator. The letter demands Aetna explain its decision to abandon Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges next year in more than two-thirds of the counties where it now sells the coverage.
With over 11 million individuals and families across the country receiving health coverage through plans sold on the ACA exchanges, the letter to Mark T. Bertolini, Chairman and CEO of Aetna, says the senators are “particularly troubled that Aetna’s decision to leave the ACA exchanges appears to have been motivated by the Justice Department’s decision to challenge Aetna’s proposed $37 billion merger with Humana,” a deal Warren and company understood would “harm competition in the health insurance market and negatively impact the cost and quality of health care” according to predictions made about the “big risk” deal by Justice Department officials who were expected to pay close attention to it.
The message to Bertolini is that his company placed a big bet, which has already cost them $1 billion in a so-called “breakup fees” common to such deals, and lost. They should suffer the consequences for bad betting, just like gamblers around the world and through time have done when they’re not the winner.
Because the risks of the merger were obvious from the beginning, these actions are both inexplicable and irresponsible. You now must answer both to your shareholders and to the thousands of Americans who trusted Aetna with their health coverage,” the letter reads.
In addition to Sen. Brown, Sens. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Bill Nelson of Florida were also signatories to the challenge to one of America’s biggest for-profit health insurers.
Aetna’s leader says the insurer could grow its exchange business “should there be meaningful exchange-related policy improvements,” the AP reported.