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Senators probes Aetna on Affordable Care Act pullout

Aetna sign 2

BOSTON — Five Democratic senators are demanding 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.

The senators sent a letter to Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini on Thursday. Read the letter to Aetna here.

The senators questioned whether the Connecticut-based insurer was motivated by the Justice Department’s decision to challenge Aetna’s proposed $37 billion merger with Humana.

They also wanted to know what criteria Aetna used to determine which states to withdraw from.

Aetna responded on Friday in a statement to FOX 61:

We are one of many insurers, large and small, that has been forced to reduce its public exchange participation due to an increasingly unstable marketplace.  This isn’t a recent development, as more than 40 companies exited certain geographies for the 2016 plan year.

Singling Aetna out may be politically convenient during election season, but this letter ignores realities and takes the focus away from needed reforms.  The ACA is not sustainable without bipartisan action that improves access, affordability and quality of care for consumers.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Bill Nelson of Florida signed the letter.

Bertolini has said the insurer could grow its exchange business “should there be meaningful exchange-related policy improvements.”

While they didn’t sign the letter, both Connecticut senators did send statements to FOX 61:

Sen. Richard Blumenthal said, “I have led the opposition to the merger and requested the DOJ’s legal action to block it. I hope the company will expl‎ain more fully its reasons for withdrawing from the public exchanges. I have shared my concerns directly with the company.”

Sen. Chris Murphy said, “The Affordable Care Act is working, and more people have health insurance than ever before. While I’m disappointed Aetna has decided to leave several health exchange marketplaces, there is simply no basis to believe they made this call in bad faith. Aetna has been clear that they may reenter those exchanges they are exiting if conditions improve. These exchanges should be a win-win proposition for insurers and consumers, and our focus shouldn’t be trying to find scapegoats – it should be on ensuring the Affordable Care Act works for everyone.”