Live from Virginia Friday morning on The John Fredericks Show – weekdays on WNTW AM 820/ FM 92.7 – Richmond, WJFN FM 100.5 – Central Virginia, WMPH AM 1010 / FM 100.1 / FM 96.9 (7-9 PM) Hampton Roads, WBRG AM 1050 / FM 105.1 – Lynchburg/Roanoke and Weekdays 6-10 am and 24/7 Stream – host Fredericks welcomed the Administrator for Medicare and Medicaid Service, Seema Verma to the show to discuss President Trump’s healthcare executive order and it’s focus on transparency and pre-existing conditions.
Fredericks: Joining us now from The White House. So good to have her on is Seema Verma. She is the administrator for Medicare and Medicaid services, and she’s been there and been with us from the beginning, and now becoming a regular on the John Frederick Show. Seema, great to have you,
Verma: Hey, it’s great to be with you, John. Thanks for having me.
Fredericks: I love the call yesterday. It was so funny. I don’t mind if I share a little inside baseball. So I’m on this call and Secretary Azar comes on, and he’s very buttoned-down. And he, you know, goes through his thing and you’re kind of taking notes on it, but then Seema gets on and she’s like, okay, let me explain how this thing works. And I’m like, I gotta get her back tomorrow. So Seema a good job on that, but the president’s healthcare vision. Seema, outline it for our listeners. We finally have one. He’s got a couple of executive orders coming. Outline it, if you will, for our listeners.
Verma: Well, thank you. So yesterday they signed executive orders, but more importantly, he laid out his vision for the future of American healthcare. Lower cost, better care, and more choices. And the concept here is that we all know that our healthcare system has been run by a destructive combination of DC and special interests.
And what the president is trying to do is to put that power and control with the American people. With the American patient. So putting them in control so that they and their doctors are making decisions about their healthcare. And what the president has been doing is tackling the many longstanding issues in our healthcare system.
I mean as you know, there’s a lot of dysfunction. A lot of problems varied and complex. But what he’s doing is taking a very comprehensive methodical approach and trying to address these problems so that this system works better. And this is really important because other folks are out there.
They just want to throw more money at the problem. But he’s trying to fix the underlying problems. That’s why we’re working on drug pricing. He talked about price transparency. He talked about making sure people have access to their medical records. These are problems in the system that are actually leading to higher costs. And as we all know they just create hassles for the American patient.
So he outlined his vision and talked about all of the accomplishments. You know, so many things that he’s done. One of the things that I’m really proud of is how he’s delivered. We have actually lowered premiums across the board. If you look at the individual insurance exchanges when we got here, the rates were going up by double digits. You know, 100% increases. Crazy! But since the president’s been here premiums have actually gone down.
We stabilized the market and insurers are coming back. Now Obamacare is still way too expensive, and it’s leaving a lot of people out, and that’s why the president also reaffirmed his commitment to individuals with preexisting conditions. And that he’s going to take care of them.
And the Medicare program, Medicare Advantage, you know, we have dropped those premiums on average by 34%. In some areas of the country, those premiums have gone down by over 50%. No other president has achieved that. So he’s not just talking, you know, it’s action and we’re seeing things have really changed in this country over the last three years when it comes to health care.
Fredericks: All right. A couple of things that I want to get into that says you said let’s focus on three things. One is preexisting conditions. Like you said the president has said over and over and over, anything that he does is we’re going to protect preexisting conditions, one of the questions, though, yesterday on the record reporters called in, which I thought was interesting.
One of the correspondents said well Obamacare is stopping people from getting insurance from freezing conditions law. So that was a law. So why do you now need an executive order if that was already law? And the answer was well that’s going away. So now the president wants to be sure that that stays in and does he have the authority to do that?
Verma: So a couple of things, you know, one of the things I think people keep saying is that Obamacare is providing protections for people with preexisting conditions. And that is simply not true. And here’s why. So the first of all, the protections came many years ago.
If you have employer-based health insurance those protections for preexisting conditions were already there. What Obamacare did was try to attempt to give those protections in the individual market. So if you don’t have employer-based health insurance. But this is is why they failed. Obamacare is so expensive that if you aren’t getting a subsidy, your premiums could be, you know, almost two-thirds of your income.
We were looking at a case in Nebraska with a 60-year-old couple and looking at their income. I think they were earning around $70,000 a year, and their premiums would have been two-thirds of their incomes and that’s even before the deductible. So Obamacare is so unaffordable that if you have a preexisting condition, you don’t have any protections.
And that’s why the president is fighting to make sure that we have a system in place that can deliver more affordable coverage. And what he’s saying is look, if this law goes away, and if we don’t win this lawsuit, we’re going to come up with something that makes sure that everybody gets access to affordable coverage, and whatever we do we’re always going to make sure that we protect people with preexisting conditions because they are not protected today.
Fredericks: So they’re not protected today. But does the executive order that the president is doing, does that give the authority? So if I go apply after this executive order, and I go to apply to my insurance company and I want to get insurance, and of course we know that under Obamacare you can’t afford it shorts, right? Because it doubled. But if you went through it after his executive order, that insurance company cannot turn me down for a preexisting condition is that my understanding?
Verma: That’s exactly it. They can’t turn you away. And I think the president wanted to make clear that this is his policy. He’s always going to protect people that have preexisting conditions. And so if the court overturns Obamacare he’s going to make sure that those protections remain in place as that is his policy. And you know quite frankly that’s already been in place for many years way before Obamacare.
So I think it’s important that we level set with the American people, and that they understand that those protections were largely there if you had employer-based insurance. And in the individual market, he’s fighting for a better system that will make healthcare coverage more affordable.
That’s why the work that he’s doing on price transparency drug pricing, all of these things are important because we have to get at the underlying costs in the healthcare system, right? If we’re not addressing that, you know, we’re not addressing the problems that America faces. That’s what we’re all concerned about, cost.
Fredericks: Let’s get to surprise billing. Which part of the healthcare vision is it that’s going to be U.S. policy that all billing is transparent and upfront? So you’re not going to get these surprise bills. I spent a lot of time on this last year because this is real. I mean it happened to me once I went in for a biopsy for something. A colonoscopy alright. I don’t want to get into detail but sounds like that whatever it is.
Verma: Yeah. It’s not fun.
Fredericks: But over my age. Do it whenever so go do they have but anyway, you know, I got coverage and I hand in my thing and three months later I get a bill in the mail for like $6,200. I’m like what the hell is this? I had no idea, and I started talking to people and there are so many people that would get these bills that would show up in. The problem is if you don’t pay it, they get a judgment and then they garnish your wages or your bank account? So it just doesn’t go away. How are we going to deal with it?
Listen to the full show here:
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