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Florida Blue CEO Expects Insurance Subsidies Will Continue In 2017

Florida Blue CEO P
Florida Blue CEO P

The CEO of Florida’s largest health insurance company says he expects federal payments to make health insurance cheaper will continue through 2017.

President Donald Trump has called cost-sharing reductions "bailouts for insurance companies," and threatened to cut them off to bring Democrats to the table to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The cost-sharing reductions are payments insurance companies get to reduce out-of-pocket costs for health care.

The Trump administration made the payments this month, though.

“Our expectation is cost-sharing reduction will stay in place for the balance of the year," said Florida Blue CEO Pat Geraghty in an interview with WMFE. "We hope cost-share reductions stay in place through whatever bridge period, be it one or two years, to whatever we get next out of the legislation the federal government puts in place. But the bridge of cost-sharing reductions are really important because they help people be able to afford their care.”

The Congressional Budget Office predicts ending the payments would increase premiums by 20 percent next year and add nearly $194 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade. And in Florida, the problem could be more acute. There are more than 1 million Floridians who benefit from cost-sharing reductions -- that's 75 percent of all the plans sold.

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates plans in Florida would spike 25 percent next year without the payments.

“It’s a critical Florida issue," Geraghty said. "It’s not a Democratic issue, it’s not a Republican issue, it’s really a people issue. To keep people who have gained coverage covered is good for the whole community.”

Florida Blue is the largest insurer in the state, and in many counties in Florida, they will be the only health insurer selling plans on next year.