Did 53,000 New Yorkers just become the latest in a long line of Obamacare victims?

BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York has announced that they will be withdrawing from the Medicaid managed care program, meaning 53,000 Medicaid recipients will be forced to look for new insurance plans.  

Via The Buffalo News:

The insurer, which plans to publicly announce its withdrawal from the program today, informed government officials of the move Thursday in a memo that was obtained by The Buffalo News.

“We have incurred losses in excess of $40 million over the past three years in these programs,” Don Ingalls, the insurer’s vice president of state and federal relations, said in the memo. “We have a 20+ year history of supporting these programs and members; however, we cannot continue to do so as the losses ultimately have been funded by other lines of business.”

BlueCross BlueShield’s Medicaid clients will be notified by the end of August, and they will have until the end of October – two months – to find new insurance.

Rep. Chris Collins (R) has said he fears that “the other carriers follow suit.”  Collins noted that the 53,000 being absorbed by the other major carriers would be prohibitively expensive.

Stephen T. Swift, executive vice president and chief financial officer at BlueCross Blue Shield, denied that Obamacare had any role in the decision to withdraw from the Medicaid managed care program.

But as the Buffalo News reporter points out, “Obamacare, which took effect last fall, vastly expands the number of New Yorkers on Medicaid.”

Collins also makes the point.

“I would argue that BlueCross BlueShield now has a lot more clients on Medicaid because of Obamacare, so they would lose a lot more money,” he said. “I don’t see how they could say that this doesn’t have a connection to Obamacare.”

During a conference call with supporters last year, President Obama claimed “you’ve got almost 400,000 folks who could gain access to Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.”

Last year, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield also dropped out of the Medicaid managed care program, citing an expectation of losing $100 million on the program at the same time New York was expanding the public health insurance program to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act.