Sebelius Warns Insurers That Inaction on Reform Would Damage Industry
On Wednesday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius warned health insurers attending America's Health Insurance Plans' national policy forum that if they do not support efforts to pass health reform legislation, the industry would suffer over the long term, the Wall Street Journal reports (Yoest, Wall Street Journal, 3/10).
She said that without reform, health insurance premiums would continue to rise and people and businesses would continue to drop coverage, causing the industry to shrink (Edney, CongressDaily, 3/10).
Sebelius asked insurers to "give up some short-term profits" and help encourage efforts to enact an overhaul (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 3/10). She said, "It's not too late to work on this issue together, for insurance companies to come to the table and work with us" (Pear, "Prescriptions," New York Times, 3/10).
Ignagni Responds to Sebelius' Speech
AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni responded to Sebelius' speech by noting that insurers are concerned that current reform proposals would increase the cost of health care. She said insurers also are concerned that current reform proposals would not provide younger, healthier people with enough incentive to purchase coverage, which would leave insurance pools with older people with more costly health problems.
According to Ignagni, Democrats recently have said too little about controlling health costs and instead have concentrated on attacking insurers.
She suggested that individual health insurance requirements should be more stringent and that limits on premiums for older people should be reduced. Ignagni said she will provide Sebelius with cost-cutting suggestions for current reform bills (Wall Street Journal, 3/10).
According to CongressDaily, it is unlikely that Democrats will include the changes to reform legislation suggested by AHIP because lawmakers already have sent finalized legislation to the Congressional Budget Office for scoring (CongressDaily, 3/10).
Sebelius Asks for More Disclosure
During her speech, Sebelius again asked insurers to disclose all of their requests for premium increases, along with cost data and other information proving the need for higher rates.
Ignagni said AHIP would work with the National Association of Insurance Commissions to generate a standard template for data disclosure ("Prescriptions," New York Times, 3/10).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.