Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 5, 2015

Virgin Islands’ Exemption From Health Care Law Prompts Alaska Plea

Sen. Lisa Murkowski

Murkowski. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Last week, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner released a letter to a Virgin Islands official releasing U.S. territories from insurance requirements mandated by the 2010 health care overhaul law. On Friday, Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski weighed in the matter.

Murkowski urged similar consideration of states with small populations:

The administration needs to recognize the unique needs of the territories as well as small population states like Alaska where premiums under the healthcare law have seen double and triple digit increases for some Alaskans from 2013 to 2014.

They said their hands were tied, and now they’ve decided it’s in their interest to untie them. I wish this administration would listen to the interests of Americans struggling with the skyrocketing premiums and no improved access to care. Enough with the political calculations; let’s look at Americans’ household budgets and truly improve health care.”

Comments (65)

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  1. odb2

    July 28, 2014
    3:55 a.m.

    before the knee jerk reactions start I would really like to see the statistics on these premiums

  2. Jon Boy

    July 29, 2014
    8:52 p.m.

    So here’s the “knee jerk” reaction. Obama said we will REDUCE your costs. Is anyone really surprised? You are going to provide more coverage to more people and REDUCE the cost. The most amazing thing is that some people actually believed him.

  3. jack

    Aug. 2, 2014
    5:22 p.m.

    Ak has a high rate of welfare and low income people,seems like the ACA would have helped them.

    • ragcollector

      Nov. 12, 2014
      3:16 p.m.

      The “American Communism Act” helps nobody!!! At a minimum, as a poor person, you need 8000 dollars to spend on healthcare before the 80/20 kicks in!!! It enslaves everybody to the servitude to insurance comps.!?!?! It only helps in redistribution of money, control the people, and destroy the greatest healthcare in the world!!! Did it need fixing? Oh yeah, but that is because of gov’t regulations to start with.

  4. Becky Wegner-Kempl

    Aug. 13, 2014
    3:31 p.m.

    I wonder, does remote Alaska even have computer to sign up for ACA? I would think not

  5. Mort Leith

    Aug. 20, 2014
    9:30 p.m.

    I just was FORCED off of my GREAT insurance with Aetna and went from paying $367/month with great benefits,
    to now paying $570/month with LESS benefits, and higher Deductible ! !

    Over $200/month MORE !
    but now I have Maternity and Birth Control (I’m almost 60 yrs old), so if I go out this weekend and get knocked up,, I;m GOOD ! !!

  6. Susan

    Sept. 1, 2014
    6 p.m.

    I have never in my life commented on a news article but there is a serious omission in the above article. The Virgin Islands may have received an “exemption” recently from the ACA I believe that was more of a formality. Because we are a territory rather than a state we did not qualify for the same level of federal support dollars. Our governor had the option of choosing between expanding medicaid or trying to set up an exchange. The federal dollars were just not sufficient to set up an exchange so medicaid expansion was the decision. Undoubtedly many people that needed help with medical bills did get more help. On the other hand, no one independantly employed in the Virgin Islands with preexisting conditions can get insurance. Period. Not available here. Adding to that as we do not have large industry a higher percentage of our population is independently employed. I no of no one here that thought of it as anything but a blow when we did not have full access to the ACA. So it stings a bit to read Murkowski using the VI as a comparison. Our lack of participation in ACA has nothing at all to do with remoteness. It has to do with our territorial status and how it affected our access to federal assistance.

    • Mark

      Nov. 10, 2014
      8:17 a.m.

      Your comment is spot on, having just returned to the VI after an 11 year absence, my wife and I have found there is no insurance company that will cover us for less than $1400.00 per month. And we are healthy and have no preexisting medical conditions. We are forgotten citizens of the US who pay Federal income taxes like everyone else.

    • ragcollector

      Nov. 12, 2014
      3:08 p.m.

      So plaIn a simple, you want to instill communism so you can steal hard working healthy peoples money huh??? Instead of wanting gov’t out of the way for ins. comps. to compete, you want total gov’t control??? What mindless weak sheep! Hope you get the communism you think you deserve!!!

      • Susan

        Nov. 12, 2014
        10:30 p.m.

        Wow. Was not expecting this reaction to what I thought was a an informed response. We Virgin Islanders are US citizens. We pay US taxes. I am certainly not looking for a hand out. We are fortunately in the position that we can afford to pay for health insurance. However, because we were not included under Obamacare, insurance is not available to any one with pre- existing conditions in the Virgin Islands. As I said, because we have little industry here many people are self employed. That means we are not eligible for group insurance plans. Self employed people with pre-existing conditons cannot get health insurance. It’s not a matter of price, you are just denied. It would be hard to reach 55 or 60 without having some pre-existing condition. As my husband had an illness that would have been terminal if not treated we were left with no choice other than a temporary move to the states. Well, there was another choice but being sort of fond of my husband I ruled that out.

        We work hard, we pay our taxes, I am not advocating communism. But Obamacare made it possible for me to continue my life with the man I love and I am so grateful for that.

        • ragcollector

          Nov. 12, 2014
          10:48 p.m.

          So, what are you saying? you temp. moved back to states to get “American Communism Act” ins.? sounds like you didn’t tell the truth so you could get ins.? You used the people for your ins. needs? DANM!!! So instead of people having to lie and move around, wouldn’t be better if the regs were out of the way so competition could actually expand the coverage and reduce the cost, also providing a better product??? If your area does not cover pre-existing, then shouldn’t you move to a place that does??? Or have the territory start a pre-existing STATE run ins. policy? That is what our state and I hear many other states use to do for the “Hard to ins.” folks, At the end of the day, yes you can live wherever you like but you also have to just depend on yourself and local resources, you choose to live their, don’t make me pay for your choice

  7. ragcollector

    Nov. 12, 2014
    3:19 p.m.

    One thing to also think about! “You never have to force someone to buy a good product, do you??? Usually it’s the opposite, you try to talk people into not buy garbage.

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