Aetna CEO says Trump win took company by surprise

The CEO of Aetna said his team went back to the drawing board following Tuesday's election results to devise a course of action for an outcome they had not anticipated — potential repeal of the ACA, reports Hartford Courant.

"If you were to look at our game board of all the possible outcomes that could have happened in the election, this one wasn't even on the sheet,'' CEO Mark Bertolini said Thursday at a business conference in New York. "We started with a fresh piece of paper yesterday. We had no idea how to approach it."

Mr. Bertolini said if the ACA is repealed under President-elect Donald Trump, a replacement must be created to service Americans, especially chronically ill individuals ages 45 to 65, who have coverage under the ACA exchange plans but are too young to receive Medicare. He said these individuals need support through a similar program.

"I mean, 81 percent of the American public hate their health insurance," Mr. Bertolini said. "They hate the healthcare system. We have too many uninsured, it's not affordable, even for people making six figures, so it still has to be fixed. We still need to insure everybody," he said.

He said solutions to the ACA's issues include keeping specific, popular parts of the law, like coverage for adults 26 and younger under family policies and the elimination of preexisting conditions, according to the article. He also said Medicaid expansion could be sustained if approached in a different way.  

In the days following the election, the Hartford, Conn.-based insurer saw its stocks jump $14 in anticipation the U.S. Department of Justice under President Trump would be more likely to approve its proposed $37 billion acquisition of Louisville, Ky.-based Humana. However, Mr. Bertolini said he does not know how the election will affect the merger and the DOJ's antitrust lawsuit to block it.   

This article was updated on Nov. 14 at 4:53 p.m. CST to reflect that "Medicaid" should read "Medicare" when discussing those that are too young to receive the health plan assistance. We regret this error. 

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