Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., “is at long last acknowledging that Obamacare has increased healthcare prices” and created other unintentional consequences, the Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote Friday.
Warren, who has long supported the Affordable Care Act, the official name for Obamacare, has recently come to an “epiphany” about “industry consolidation and price increases caused by the healthcare law,” per The Journal.
A letter to the Health and Human Services Department inspector general was aimed at determining if “vertically-integrated health care companies are hiking prescription drug costs” and are “evading federal regulations.”
In a bipartisan letter, she and Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., complained “that the nation’s largest health insurers are dodging Obamacare’s medical loss ratio (MLR),” according to The Journal.
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As Warren describes in the letter, health insurers have exploited the situation, making for “sky-high prescription drug costs and excessive corporate profits.”
“In functioning markets, generic drugs cost 80 to 85 percent less than their name-brand equivalents, giving patients much-needed relief from high drug costs and saving taxpayer dollars,” Warren wrote. “But patients – including patients in public health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid – who either use or are compelled to use vertically integrated specialty pharmacies are not seeing this relief.”
The senators continued: “By owning every link in the chain, a conglomerate like UnitedHealth Group – which includes an insurer, a PBM, a pharmacy, and physician practices – can send inflated medical payments to its pharmacy. Then, by realizing those payments on the pharmacy side – the side that charges for care – rather than the insurance side, the insurance line of business appears to be in compliance with MLR requirements, while keeping more money for itself.”
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The Journal explained that despite Democrats arguing that the MLR would help patients, “the rule has spurred insurers to merge with or acquire pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), retail and specialty pharmacies, and healthcare providers.”
“This has made healthcare spending less transparent since insurers can shift profits to their affiliates by increasing reimbursements,” the board wrote.
Warren has voted against Obamacare repeal efforts over the years but also pushed for a “Medicare for All” proposal when she ran for president in 2020.
Warren’s office and HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.
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