Health Insurers Work To Encourage Members To Join Reform Talks
Health insurers have encouraged employees and satisfied customers to attend community meetings and house parties over the next two weeks to discuss health care reform, the New York Times reports.
Earlier this month, HHS Secretary-designate and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) asked U.S. residents to hold such events from Dec. 15 to Dec. 31 to allow President-elect Barack Obama's transition team to collect input on the issue.
Stephanie Cutter, a spokesperson for the Obama transition team, said that more than 4,200 community meetings and house parties are scheduled nationwide, and the first events were held on Sunday.
People holding health care meetings include volunteers from Obama's presidential campaign; members of consumer groups, such as Health Care for America Now or the Service Employees International Union; and others from the health care and insurance industries.
Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesperson for America's Health Insurance Plans, said that the group has begun "mobilizing our grassroots coalitions and encouraging industry employees" to attend the events.
The American Medical Association and other medical societies also have encouraged physicians to attend the events.
In addition, Mary Grealy, president of the Healthcare Leadership Council, said that the group plans to hold community meetings in California, Georgia, Oklahoma and other states.
According to the Times, some Obama advisers have "expressed concern that people from the health care industry may try to pack the neighborhood meetings."
However, Cutter said that the Obama transition team does not oppose the attendance of health care industry representatives at the events. She said, "These are listening sessions," adding, "We are trying to find people who share Obama's goal of health care reform, even if they disagree on the specifics."Health insurers "are raising questions" about Obama's proposal to establish a new public health plan to compete directly with private plans and oppose his plans to reduce Medicare Advantage reimbursements (Pear, New York Times, 12/17). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.