In a move that caught everyone by surprise on Thursday evening: the White House leaked information advising that Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, would be resigning.

In a 2012 broadcast of America’s Healthcare Advocate, I asked my guest, Dennis Miller (talk radio host and comedian) who he thought the most powerful woman in Washington was.  Without missing a beat, the quick-witted Mr. Miller replied, “That would be Batman’s Butler otherwise known as Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services.”

After I regained my composure, Mr. Miller and I discussed how quickly we thought President Obama would throw Kathleen Sebelius under the bus if ObamaCare failed.  The President surprised many by sticking with her after the failed ObamaCare rollout in 2013.

However, with the new Pew research poll showing 80 percent of respondents among registered voters saying a candidate’s stance on ObamaCare was important and 54 percent saying it was very important, it’s easy to understand why it was time for Ms. Sebelius to exit stage left.

Support for ObamaCare fell 37 percent to its lowest level since 2010.  All this on top of a new Morgan Stanley report showing the largest acceleration of premiums in small group and individual rates over the last twelve quarters with analysts concluding increases were largely due to the Affordable Care Act, most specifically community rating (which restricts underwriting for age bans) as well as the new excise tax being levied and increased benefit designs.  As Forbes magazine notes:

For the small group market, among the ten states seeing the biggest increases are: Washington 588%, Pennsylvania 66%, California 37%, Indiana 34%, Kentucky 30%, Colorado 29%, Michigan 27%, Maryland 25%, Missouri 25%, and Nevada 23%.

Obviously, this is not good news for employers with 50 to 150 employees.  I fully expect to see the trend to partially self-funded and captive plans increase significantly over the next year as these plans are exempt from the rating increases and new taxes associated with ACA.

Cary Hall

America’s Healthcare Advocate