For Immediate Release
AUGUSTA - House Republicans on Monday called attention to the recently-released data for fourth quarter 2013 small group health insurance renewals in Maine. This data is the last batch of numbers that reflect Maine's health insurance market under PL 90, the health insurance reform law passed by the Republican-controlled legislature in 2011. As of January 1, 2014, small group renewal numbers will reflect not only PL 90, but also the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare.
Among its many changes, the Maine Republican reform allowed the purchase of health plans across state lines; increased the rating bands from 1.5:1 to 3:1, allowing insurers to charge young, healthy people less for their coverage; allowed small groups to band together for more affordable coverage; and allowed insurers to offer incentives for people to seek less expensive care that may be farther away from home.
"This is the last pure data we'll see on Maine Republicans' reforms before ObamaCare begins to kick in starting in January," said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport. "The verdict is in and the numbers couldn't be any clearer. The Maine Republican health reform law has worked wonders across the state, driving down premiums and reforming the broken status quo built up by years of misguided liberal health policy. This goes to show that Republicans have health policy solutions that provide real results, not broken promises."
Data released by the Maine Bureau of Insurance show the number of small groups renewing in Q4 2013 increased by 35 percent over Q4 2012, which indicates that businesses may be renewing their plans at their last opportunity to do so before ObamaCare kicks in. National commentators have predicted this fallout and the disastrous effects on small businesses of waiting until 2014 to renew.
The latest data on the Maine Republican reform show that northern Maine is experiencing more rate decreases than any other region. Aroostook, Piscataquis, and Penobscot Counties are seeing a combined 33.3 percent of small groups pay lower premiums upon renewal. In the second Quarter of this year, 18 percent of northern small groups saw rate decreases and prior to PL 90's implementation, only 3.9 percent were seeing decreases.
"The dust has settled and it's clear that Maine is better off than it was prior to the Republican health insurance reform law," said Assistant House Republican Leader Alex Willette of Mapleton. "There was some criticism of the changes up in my area at first, but now we're seeing that almost ten times as many small businesses are seeing rate decreases, and one-quarter as many are seeing rate increases of greater than 20 percent."
Statewide, prior to PL 90, 38.5 percent of small groups saw rate increases of 20 percent or greater. The latest data show that the percentage of small groups across the state seeing 20 percent or greater rate increases has dropped to just 10.1 percent. Similarly, prior to PL 90, only 3-4 percent of small groups saw rate decreases, while now, 20-33 percent are seeing their premiums drop upon renewal, depending on the region.
Meanwhile, Anthem has sent out 8,500 cancellation notices to Mainers effective January 1, 2014 even after President Obama and Congressional Democrats promised the American people that if they like their current plan, they can keep it. President Obama has since apologized for his broken promise and has asked state health insurance regulators to postpone the inevitable, but Mainers are becoming increasingly skeptical of the competence of the federal government and its sweeping health care takeover.
"We better enjoy this good news while it lasts," added Rep. Fredette. "We're seeing the benefits of market-based reforms here in Maine before President Obama's government takeover of health care really starts to kick in next month."
Maine House Republicans
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