Health Tradition Health Plan will quit offering individual policies and pull the plug on another program next year.

The policies apparently are casualties in the stalled Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which the GOP has tried to repeal or significantly revise more than 60 times since it was enacted almost eight years ago.

Health Tradition, Mayo Clinic Health System’s insurance plan, will halt individual coverage Dec. 31 and will not write small employer group health plans under the ACA’s Small Business Health Options Program next year, according to a news release.

The number of people affected could not be determined Monday because no Health Tradition representatives were available for comment, according to a spokesman for Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse.

The vast majority of people who have health insurance obtain it through their employers, while those whose employers don’t offer coverage and self-employed people seek individual plans from insurers in the ACA marketplace.

The Small Business Health Options Program, frequently described with the acronym SHOP, helps small businesses subsidize or pay for their workers’ premiums.

Health Tradition’s reasons for pulling out of the marketplace for the two options is not known, beyond a statement it issued saying, “Many national and regional health plan companies have exited the Exchange Marketplace over the past two years due to financial risk and uncertainty about the ACA’s future.

“Health Tradition Health Plan will concentrate on continuing to provide commercial insurance for Western Wisconsin-based employers, and will continue to provide coverage for individuals through 12/31/2017,” according to the statement.

Quartz, the health plan that the Gundersen Health Plan and Unity Health Plans Insurance Corp. affiliated with in March, also may be considering changes in its offerings, although Quartz officials were not available for comment Monday.

Quartz is a health plan services company headquartered in Sauk City, Wis., that administers the provider-sponsored health insurance plans, which Gundersen Health System and UW Health co-own.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, President Donald Trump vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare on Day One, if elected. So far, Trump has been unable to marshal Republican forces to accomplish that.

Polls show that up to 70 percent of Americans want to keep Obamacare and repair its flaws rather than repeal and replace it.

The Republican-led U.S. House passed the American Health Care Act in May, an occasion that GOP members celebrated with Trump on the White House lawn. The Congressional Budget Office later found that it would decrease federal deficits by $337 billion during the next decade but increase the number of uninsured by 24 million in 2026, compared with Obamacare.

Democrats and other critics have insisted that the AHCA amounts to tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of the poor.

Trump has since labeled the House bill as “mean” and encouraged the Senate to pass more compassionate legislation.

Senate efforts to pass its own version of repeal and replace also have been stymied, in part because of criticisms similar to those about the House plan.

Friday, Trump suggested repealing Obamacare now and replacing it later.


Mike Tighe is the Tribune newsroom's senior citizen. That said, he don't get no respect from the cub reporters as he goes about his duly-appointed rounds on the health, religion and whatever-else-lands-in-his-inbox beats. Call him at 608-791-8446.

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