Insurers Speak Quietly In Health Care Debate

The insurance industry is keeping its cards close to its chest in the debate over Republican efforts to overhaul the ACA, the Wall Street Journal reports. Industry leaders are making their thoughts heard quietly. Marilyn Tavenner, president of AHIP, tells the newspaper that “the members of Congress have not really wanted to play publicly—they’ve wanted to talk through it privately. It’s a different approach. It doesn’t mean we don’t share what we like and what we don’t like. We just don’t do it publicly.”

Other stakeholders have put up their fists, so to speak, in order to protect their turf. Some experts believe that the low-key approach the insurance industry is taking has kept the lines of communication open with Republican lawmakers.

Which is not to say that the industry speaks with one voice, the WSJ reports. Some point to the House version of the bill (the Senate is still working on its version), which would cut Medicaid funding by $834 billion over a decade, according to the Congressional Budge Office.

John Baackes, CEO of L.A. Care, a California-based insurer that caters mostly to Medicaid beneficiaries, tells the WSJ that he considers the Republican effort “a threat to access for our members and a threat for providing adequate compensation for our providers.”

Insurers with a larger presence in the individual market see hopeful signs in some of the proposals being considered by the Senate. They “are considering a $15 billion market stabilization fund over two years beginning in 2018 that would flow directly to insurers, for example, as well as several provisions loosening the rules on the types of plans insurance firms can sell,” the WSJ reports.

Lawmakers have noted the relative quiet from the insurance industry.

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, told the WSJ: “The health insurers have been missing in this profoundly significant debate, and their voice is profoundly important but absent.” 

Source: Wall Street Journal