Pa. health insurance rates rising, Clinton and Trump debate Obamacare

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton listens to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (Rick T. Wilking/Pool via AP)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Insurance carrier Capital BlueCross says it will change plans under the Affordable Care Act and it’s asking for permission to raise rates.

Trump and Clinton spar on reforming “Obamacare”.

When an undecided voter asked the candidates to reduce health insurance costs, the ensuing exchange between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton proved to be a memorable moment of Sunday’s presidential debate.

Clinton: “No, go ahead, Donald.”

Trump: “No, I’m a gentleman, Hilary. Go ahead.”

The candidates’ position on health care reforms are polar opposites, but both agree costs are way too high for the average American. Insurance companies claim costs are too much and they have to increase premiums and opt out of plans for the uninsured and underinsured.

Capital BlueCross recently announced it would opt out of several coverage plans under the Affordable Care Act when new enrollment begins Nov. 1. The carrier asked the state Insurance Department for permission to raise premiums by 20 percent. Due to the Columbus Day holiday, both parties did not return calls for comment on Monday.

Capital BlueCross has not changed its plans under ACA until now. Highmark last year decided to adjust to rising healthcare costs.

Ten of 12 carriers in Pennsylvania are proposing increases of double digits. Geisinger Quality Options plans to increase rates by 65 percent. Aetna pulled out altogether.

Trump has not swayed in his position.

“We have to repeal it and replace it,” he said Sunday night.

His plan is to create a national free market with competition.

“We have to get rid of the lines around the states, artificial lines where we stop insurance companies from coming in and competing,” Trump said.

Clinton was pressed by moderator Anderson Cooper about her husband’s comment calling ACA “the craziest thing ever.” Clinton acknowledged high costs are hurting many small businesses.

Clinton said eliminating ACA would be disastrous and would ruin the positive aspects of the law. She said she would save patient protections like gender equality where women cannot be charged more.

Clinton also said thousands of people with preexisting conditions are now insured because of ACA.

Insurance companies have claimed a reduction in enrollment and those already enrolled are using the system more than people who were already insured.

“I want very much to save what works and is good about the Affordable Care Act,” Clinton said, “but we’ve gotta get costs down. We’ve got to provide some additional help to small businesses.”

Clinton’s ideas involve eliminating a ban on importing foreign prescriptions and allowing the federal government to negotiate prices. She also wants to introduce new tax credits and shrink overall costs by reducing leverage on out-of-network hospital charges.

Trump said his rival wanted a “single-payer system.” While Clinton supported that as one avenue of reform in the past, she has since been an advocate for a public option.

In Pennsylvania, there has been a drop in ACA enrollment from 427,000 to 412,000 within the past year.

“Obamacare is a disaster,” Trump said. “You know it. We all know it.”

“Let’s fix what’s broken about it,” Clinton said, “but let’s not throw it away.”

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