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Trump to health insurance CEOs: Market will stabilize

By Allen Cone
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Trump to health insurance CEOs: Market will stabilize
U.S. President Donald Trump leads a listening session Monday with health insurance company CEOs in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Pool photo by Aude Guerrucci/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 27 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump told a group of health insurance CEOs on Monday that his new insurance program will be good for patients and "hopefully for the companies."

He promised a "smooth transition" from the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

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Trump met in the White House with executives from the largest insurance companies -- UnitedHealth, Aetna, Cigna, Humana, Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Kaiser Permanente -- along with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Vice President Mike Pence.

"I'm asking Secretary Price to work with you to stabilize the insurance market and to ensure a smooth transition to the new plan," Trump said.

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Trump wants increased insurance competition and decreased costs, including premiums.

The new plan would include expanded health savings accounts, which are tax-exempt financial accounts used to pay for medical expenses, as well as plans sold across state lines and increased flexibility for states, including bare-bones plans.

"The new plan will be a great plan for the patients, for the people, and hopefully for the companies," he said in public comments before the meeting. "It's going to be a very competitive plan. And costs will come down and [inaudible] to health care will go up very, very substantially. I think people are going to like it a lot."

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Several CEOs indicated a willingness to work with the president and learn from past mistakes with Obamacare.

"Everyone who took part in today's meeting shares a common goal – ensuring every American has access to affordable health care," said Aetna Inc. CEO Mark Bertolini, who has been critical of the Affordable Care Act, in a statement. "We look forward to continuing to work with the administration and both parties in Congress on a broader range of solutions that Americans will find valuable in managing their health care needs."

America's Health Insurance Plans said in a statement: "During the meeting, we discussed how our experience, expertise, and lessons learned from the past inform our solutions to deliver both short-term stability and long-term improvement. When we all work together, we can make health care better."

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GOP plans that have surfaced include cutting subsidies and Medicaid funding and eliminating the employer mandate.

In his comments before the meeting, Trump criticized the restrictions on the types of plans insurers could sell.

"Obamacare forced providers to limit the plan options they offered to patients and caused them to drive prices way up," Trump said. "Now a third of U.S. counties are down to one insurer, and the insurers are fleeing. You people know that better than anybody."

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Earlier Monday Trump met with state governors attending the National Governors Association, where health insurance was among the topics discussed.

"It's an unbelievably complex subject," Trump told the Republican and Democratic governors at the White House. "Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated."

On Sunday night, Trump spoke at the annual Governors' Ball at the White House.

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