Health and Science

Ex-Aetna CEO says US has moral obligation to provide access to health services

ACA's biggest problem is using balance sheet of private health care: CEO

The U.S. government has a moral obligation to make certain everyone has access to health-care services, former Aetna Chairman and CEO Ron Williams said Friday.

Williams said he also believes there is a role for individual responsibility in the health-care delivery system.

"We confuse insurance with our moral obligation to provide health-care services to people," Williams said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "And what we try to do is finance our moral obligation through the insurance system, which punishes the people who are fiscally responsible to buy insurance."

The former Aetna CEO's comments came ahead of a House vote on a bill backed by President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

The vote was postponed Thursday after Republican leaders failed to rally enough support to pass the bill because of a rebellion by the conservative Freedom Caucus and moderate Republicans. Trump has demanded that the House approve the plan as is Friday or leave Obamacare in place.

When asked about solutions to the United States' health-care problems, Williams said a single-payer system in which the government would pay for health care would be the "single" worst answer.

"Having no choice doesn't result in innovation and performance improvement," he said. "The biggest innovation in the delivery and design and care delivery have come from the large national employers who have substantial populations of employees, who are innovative and give their employees access to these management programs."