Kaine warns insurers that Congress won't tolerate "bare counties"

"Today, planning and pricing for [Obamacare]-compliant health plans has become increasingly hard due to a shrinking and deteriorating individual market, as well as continual changes and uncertainty in federal operations, rules and guidance, including cost-sharing reduction subsidies and the restoration of taxes on fully insured coverage", Anthem said Friday.

However, to date Anthem overall has announced plans to significantly scale back its Obamacare business in 2018 in nine of the 14 states where it now sells such individual market plans.

The SCC Bureau of Insurance and Virginia Secretary of Health Dr. Bill Hazel were attempting this week to talk with insurance carriers to bring coverage to what were called "bare" areas.

Anthem says 63 of the cities and counties would otherwise not have access to individual market health plans.

Anthem said it sized up the situation and chose to walk back its plans, announced in early August, to leave the state's marketplace in 2018.

Without Anthem's re-entry, 70,000 Virginians, 40,000 of them in the Roanoke and New River valleys, would be unable to buy insurance next year at any price. "Virginia customers were still going to have a participating insurer until Optima announced on September 6 it would also be leaving the exchanges, creating a new batch of potentially "bare" counties" after others in Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin had recently been covered.

Earlier this week, however, the company said it will continue to sell individual plans in all of CT.

Virginia's marketplace had been more robust than those in other states set up under former President Barack Obama's signature legislation, but suffered blows this summer.

McAuliffe said in a statement that he was grateful "Anthem has stepped forward to continue to serve Virginia in this time of federal uncertainty".

"It is imperative that leaders in Washington take quick action to make sure the marketplace in Virginia and those across the country are sustainable for years to come", he said.

Anthem changed its mind on Friday and has chose to stick it out in parts of the commonwealth that would have had no insurers for the residents.

She said she was pleased that people throughout Virginia will have access to the health insurance market. "We will continue to work in Congress with colleagues regardless of party to fix the existing Affordable Care Act to ensure a stable market, lower costs, and improve coverage", Kaine and Warner said. Those residents, many of whom have pre-existing medical conditions, would have lost their health insurance coverage at the beginning of 2018, with few, if any, options of getting it back. This left most localities in the northern Shenandoah Valley without any options to purchase an Affordable Care Act plan during the upcoming open enrollment period, which runs from November 1 to December 15.

Vanessa Coleman

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