Friday, October 16, 2009

The Gloves Are Off

The gloves have come off in what everyone probably knew would be a bare-knuckled battle between Congress and the White House in one corner and the health insurance industry in the other corner.

America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association have released reports critical of the Senate Finance Committee’s recently passed health reform proposal. Those reports, done by PricewaterhouseCooper and Oliver Wyman, are here and here.

The White House has fought back, noting correctly that in some cases that the reports are skewed and self serving (see here, here, and here).

Within these arguments are some expected disputes: the government wants more ratings reforms, the insurers want fewer; the government wants more substantial minimum benefit levels, the insurers want lower benefit levels.

Nevertheless, both AHIP and the Blues point out provisions in the Finance Committee bill that dilute the mixture of mandates and rating reforms that brought the insurance industry to the health reform table at the beginning, namely:

If a health reform plan can ensure that almost all Americans have health care coverage, that large increase in the potential market would allow insurers to compromise on ratings reforms.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Finance Committee proposal leaves as many as 25 millions Americans uninsured, far more than under any of the other reform proposals circulating in Congress (here, here, here, and here).

Ironically, even though AHIP and the Blues may be self serving in their criticisms, their arguments that link insurance reforms to coverage mandates that are immediate and effective still may be the best path to universal coverage.


Post a Comment