Wow, it looks like some Democrats have finally found their brains.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, is reportedly recognizing the unintended repercussions of the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as ObamaCare, according to a recent editorial by the Wall Street Journal. Despite her historical support for the healthcare law, the editorial suggests that Warren has undergone an “epiphany” concerning issues like industry consolidation and the escalating costs of healthcare linked to the legislation.
The editorial brings attention to a joint letter authored by Warren and Senator Mike Braun, a Republican from Indiana, which was directed to the Health and Human Services Department inspector general. The letter calls for an investigation into whether vertically-integrated healthcare companies are driving up prescription drug costs and skirting federal regulations.
In their bipartisan letter, the senators express worry about major health insurers allegedly sidestepping the medical loss ratio (MLR) stipulations of ObamaCare. Warren contends that these insurers are exploiting the situation, resulting in excessively high prescription drug costs and disproportionate corporate profits.
The senators argue that conglomerates, such as UnitedHealth Group, which own multiple facets of the healthcare chain, can manipulate the system to inflate medical payments to their pharmacies. This allows them to maintain the appearance of MLR compliance on the insurance side while pocketing more profits for themselves.
Despite Democratic assurances that the MLR would be advantageous for patients, the editorial notes that the rule has driven insurers to merge with or acquire pharmacy benefit managers, retail and specialty pharmacies, and healthcare providers. Consequently, this has obscured transparency in healthcare spending, as insurers can channel profits to their affiliates through heightened reimbursements.
Warren, a consistent opponent of efforts to repeal ObamaCare, has also championed a “Medicare for All” proposal during her 2020 presidential campaign. The editorial suggests that her recent acknowledgment of the unintended consequences of ObamaCare signifies a shift in her stance on certain aspects of healthcare policy.