Insurance Industry: We’re looking to increase our profits, reduce our responsibilities in New Health Care Marketplace

(From the Campaign for Better Health Care)

 

Executives propose great deal for the Insurance Industry at the expense of Illinois taxpayers and consumers

 
 
Springfield, IL – Today, insurance industry executives testified before the General Assembly’s Legislative Study Committee and offered their ideas for Illinois’ new Health Care Marketplace, or Exchange.  The Health Care Marketplace is a provision of the Affordable Care Act requiring states to establish a Competitive Health Care Marketplace that will allow eligible health care consumers to research and select private health care plans that fit their families’ needs and budgets.

Consumer advocates have been pushing for a competitive health care marketplace that includes the following consumer protections and provisions:

  • This new Marketplace should be located at a new quasi-governmental entity and maintain its independence from all state agencies.
  • This Marketplace should be operated for the benefit of patients, small businesses and their employees, not insurance companies.
  • Rules should include a strong conflict of interest provision that generally bars anyone who will profit from this Marketplace, such as insurers, agents or brokers, health care facilities and health care providers from having a seat on the Marketplace Governing Board.
  • The Marketplace decision-makers (governance board) should comprise of multiple consumers, small businesses, or employee representatives who encompass a variety of demographic variables.  Representation should also include: health economists, actuary, lower-income and minority communities (particularly those with limited English competency), rural, and individuals with chronic diseases and disabilities who have a special stake in this Marketplace should be represented.
  • Transparency: This Marketplace should require all board meetings to comply with open meeting laws and to allow groups to gather information and hear about the decisions made by the decision-making board.
  • This Marketplace should be staffed with or have immediate access to experienced experts who could resolve marketplace issues quickly and make recommendations to the Marketplace board.
Today, insurance industry and the insurance industry backed legislators were praising the ICHIP board as the model governing board which will make decisions for this new Health Care Marketplace. If the ideas offered during today’s testimony are adopted, the governing board would be dominated by insurance companies and other entities that stand to profit from the new Marketplace.  To avoid these blatant improper conflicts of interests, many of the members of the governance board will regularly need to recuse themselves from decision making, rendering the governance board a paper tiger with no real authority.
 
“The insurance industry’s proposal is like the fox guarding the chicken coop. It is a design ensured to fail, and the people of Illinois deserve much better,” remarked Jim Duffett, Executive Director of the Campaign for Better Health Care.  “Of course insurers are supportive of ICHIP as a model – for the past 17 years, the insurance industry has been getting a free pass on their financial responsibilities by passing the buck to the taxpayers for health care bills for tens of thousands of Illinoisans that the insurance industry should have been paying in the first place.“
Duffett continued, “The insurance industry has saved hundreds of millions of dollars by dumping their financial responsibilities onto the backs of taxpayers, during a period when they racked up a historic record of reserve funds of over 30 billion dollars as they increased health insurance premiums by 181% on Illinoisans since 2005. And now they want more. No wonder the insurance industry loves ICHIP so much and now they want to control this new Marketplace.  It is time the Illinois General Assembly stands up for small businesses and consumers and not the insurance industry.”

About the Campaign for Better Health Care                                                                                         

 
We believe that accessible, affordable, quality health care is a basic human right for all people.  The Campaign for Better Health Care the state’s largest coalition representing over 300 diverse organizations, organizing to help create and advocate for an accessible, quality health care system for all.  For more information, visit www.cbhconline.org.