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Blue Cross Blue Shield of KC’s departure from ACA leaves thousands without coverage next year

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tens of thousands of people in our area will soon be without health insurance coverage when the new year rolls around. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City announced today it's dropping individual Affordable Care Act plans.

Insurance broker Marcus Hood said, "My immediate thought is there’s going to be a lot of people that are going to be hurting over this."

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City announced today it will not offer individual Affordable Care Act plans starting next year, unless members purchased those plans before October 2013. This will affect 67,000 of the more than 1 million members in the area.

The company said it lost $100 million in the last two years and those hits are simply not sustainable. Hood claims getting insurance through the marketplace is a complicated process so many people go through private companies to buy coverage for themselves and their families. Hood said, "On the individual side, you will not be able to buy through Blue Cross, we can only hope that the remaining carrier here in Kansas will stay intact."

Hood said Medica is the one carrier in Kansas and in Missouri, the remaining provider is Cigna. "We’ve already lost a lot of choice of networks when it comes to hospitals and doctors but when there’s no choice of carriers, you’ve very limited on policies that you would want to purchase," said Hood. He calls this a state of emergency and is calling on the U.S. Senate to act immediately.

Local politicians from both sides quickly put out public statements after the news came out Wednesday.

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II called this "devastating and a wake up call to Congress," asking "what choice will thousands of Missourians have if the largest insurance provider pulls out?"

"The news that Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance will exit from the ACA's Marketplace in Missouri next year is devastating and should be a wake-up call to Congress. This means that thousands of Missourians will be without health care next year if their employer doesn't provide it. What choices will they have if the largest insurance provider pulls out? Trumpcare is not the answer. Congress must come together to improve the ACA, not start again from zero with a plan that would harm so many Americans."

Republican Senator Roy Blunt said "Obamacare is collapsing and Missouri families are paying the price."

Obamacare is collapsing and Missouri families are paying the price,” Blunt said. “We now have tens of thousands of Missourians in the Kansas City area that have lost their plans and have no insurer option on the Obamacare exchanges next year. It is another devastating blow to families that are already struggling with higher costs and less access to quality health care under the law.

This year, 97 out of Missouri’s 114 counties and the City of St. Louis have only one insurer offering plans on the exchanges. Earlier this year, Humana announced that it is also withdrawing from the exchanges. As things stand today, that leaves 25 counties with no insurer option and 77 counties with only one insurer option next year. If any additional companies announce that they are leaving the exchanges, families in those 77 counties would also be at risk of having no insurer option next year.

Missourians were repeatedly promised that, under Obamacare, they would be able to keep the plans and doctors they liked and could afford. That is not true. The status quo is unacceptable, and it is unsustainable. That is why I will continue working to advance solutions that will provide more options, better access, greater stability, and lower costs for Missouri families.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee said residents can "thank Claire McCaskill for their rising premium costs and limited healthcare options."

Claire McCaskill has got some serious explaining to do. News broke this afternoon that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City will be pulling out of the Obamacare exchanges in 2018, throwing the individual markets into further chaos and putting thousands of Missouri residents' health care at risk. This comes on top of a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services showing that under Obamacare insurance premiums in Missouri's individual market have increased by an astonishing 145% in just four years.

After casting the deciding vote to pass Obamacare in 2009, Claire McCaskill has been a staunch supporter of the doomed law going as far as promising that Obamacare, "will make things better for Missouri families, if they will give it a chance." Instead of working to improve our broken health care system, McCaskiII continues to stand with Washington Democrats, who have vowed to do everything in their power to protect former President Obama's failed health care law.

Missouri residents can thank Claire McCaskill for their rising premium costs and limited health care options," said NRSC Spokesman Michael McAdams. "When voters head to the election booth next year, Claire McCaskiII will be held accountable for the devastating impact Obamacare has had on hardworking Missourians.

FOX 4's Megan Dillard spoke with Sen. McCaskill on the phone from Washington. She said this "directly affects real people. People who desperately need coverage; people who are in the middle of chemotherapy treatments. People who have chronic diseases. The notion that we [the government] are not paying these insurance companies the payments they're entitled to under the existing law just to sabotage this for political reasons is really unfair."

Kansas Representative Kevin Yoder offered his thoughts:

With today's news, there will be no insurance option at all for tens of thousands of families unless a new provider enters the market. This news is a devastating blow for Kansans who won’t get to keep their plans or their doctors next year. Congress must continue its rescue mission to fix our broken health care system, and provide working families the relief they need – bringing insurers back to the marketplace, lowering costs, and increasing access to care."

Earlier today, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City announced it has decided to exit the Obamacare exchange next year, affecting about 37,000 Blue KC members in Wyandotte County and Johnson County. Medica is the only insurer that stands to offer Obamacare plans in 2018, but currently it caps statewide enrollment at 10,000.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback also spoke out:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City’s exit from the ObamaCare marketplace leaves two of Kansas’ three largest counties with only one vendor on the exchange. ObamaCare’s death spiral is growing worse, and there is a better way. We urge Congress and the President to continue their work to repeal and replace ObamaCare and make healthcare more affordable for Kansans.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City did not acknowledge a request for an on-camera interview, but instead provided this written statement:

Since 2014, we’ve expended significant resources to offer individual ACA plans to increase access to quality healthcare coverage for the Kansas City community,” said Danette Wilson, President and CEO of Blue KC. “Like many other health insurers across the country, we have been faced with challenges in this market. Through 2016, we have lost more than $100 million. This is unsustainable for our company. We have a responsibility to our members and the greater community to remain stable and secure, and the uncertain direction of this market is a barrier to our continued participation.”

Blue KC has more than 1 million members, and this will affect approximately 67,000. This decision will not affect 2017 coverage. It also does not affect Blue KC members who are covered under one of its “grandfathered” or “grandmothered” plans. These plans were purchased on or prior to October 1, 2013. Additionally, members who receive coverage through their employers, as well as those who purchased a Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, short-term or student health plan from Blue KC, are not affected.

This decision is necessary at this time, but we’ll continue to work with federal and state legislators to identify solutions that will stabilize the individual market and bring costs down for our members, the community and Blue KC,” said Wilson.