To Sanders, Aetna’s Pull-Back from Affordable Care Act Markets Shows Need for Overhaul

By Laura Meckler
The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 16, 2016

Sen. Bernie Sanders, who mounted a strong challenge for the Democratic presidential nomination, said Tuesday that news that a major health insurer was pulling back its participation in the Affordable Care Act exchanges affirms the need for his single-payer, government-run program. He promised to introduce legislation creating “Medicare for all” again next year.

This week, Aetna Inc. said it will withdraw from 11 of the 15 states where it currently offers plans, the latest major national insurer to sharply pull back its participation.

Rather than minimizing the problem, Mr. Sanders cast Aetna’s decision is part of a trend.

“It is disappointing that Aetna has joined other large for-profit health insurance companies in pulling out of the insurance marketplace,” he said in a statement. “Despite the Affordable Care Act bringing them millions more paying customers than ever before, these companies are more concerned with making huge profits then ensuring access to health care for all Americans.”

He added: “The provision of health care cannot continue to be dependent upon the whims and market projections of large private insurance companies whose only goal is to make as much profit as possible.”

The statement makes clear that he intends to continue fighting for his agenda from the Senate, possibly in opposition to a future President Hillary Clinton.

The health exchanges have been attacked from the political right as too much government, but also criticized from the left as not going far enough. Throughout the Democratic presidential primary, Mr. Sanders argued that only a government-run system can guarantee affordable coverage for all. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who won the nomination, says more modest tweaks to the Affordable Care Act can address its shortcomings.

To win his endorsement, Mrs. Clinton also reiterated her support for a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, but she has said little about that plan on the campaign trail.