Sen. Tim Kaine (R-Virginia) recently urged private insurance carriers to heed his strong message that “we won’t tolerate" bare counties at a Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing.
“I want to turn it around and give you a message about an action that we’re likely to take,” Sen. Kaine said during a hearing on stabilizing health insurance premiums.
“Anthem coming out of Virginia combined with others could lead about 60 to 65 counties in Virginia to be without an insurer riding on the exchange,” Kaine said. He said the move affects half of the state's counties, primarily in rural areas.
“I think people ought to be able to buy into Medicare,” he said. “I just want to communicate to all insurance companies: There is no way — none — that Congress is going to tolerate a situation where persistently there are counties in this country where people cannot buy insurance on the individual market. We just won’t tolerate it.”
Warning privatized companies that the pressure will continue to build, Kaine pledged to find a solution resembling Medicare without discriminating against those possibly otherwise denied coverage for being “too old, too poor or too sick; we will provide a vigorous public option to allow anybody to buy in to Medicare."
“The insurance companies have to worry about holding up a knife to their own throat,” he said, adding that the bare county phenomenon will create “incredible pressure” to provide health insurance.
“I want to communicate to private insurance companies that we’re not going to tolerate bare counties and we will provide an option … that will be very, very challenging to the insurance industry as we know it,” Kaine said.