Four Firms Issue Statements on the Future of Health Insurance
Over the past two months, organizations in our Healthcare Monitor coverage group have issued statements regarding the future of the healthcare system in the U.S. Four firms—Aetna, Tufts Health Plan, Kaiser Permanente and BCBS of Massachusetts—have taken stances on the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the bills that were and are being proposed as a replacement.
Aetna shared an article summarizing CEO Mark T. Bertolini’s interview with Yahoo Finance discussing Aetna’s future. He wants to position Aetna moving forward as “a health company [that] wants to make people healthier,” rather than operating as a care system available once people are already sick. The article forwards Bertolini’s opinion that a bipartisan approach is needed to update the existing ACA, noting that “the Affordable Care Act is struggling, but … it’s because it hasn’t been changed for seven years.”
Tufts Health Plan took a hard stance in mid-July in support of keeping the ACA by issuing a statement against stripping Americans of coverage. The insurer stated that it “cannot support a bill that takes away coverage from tens of millions of Americans,” aligning its support with vulnerable and diverse communities.
Kaiser Permanente issued one statement in June that it “believes progress in healthcare should be judged on access, affordability and outcomes.” With support for increasing quality and affordable care, the firm denied support for the proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson addressed the “skinny” repeal measure discussed by the Senate in late July as against the interests of KP members and the insurance market.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts issued a slew of statements with a consistent and clear message in favor of improving existing healthcare legislation but not at the cost of discontinuing coverage for Americans currently covered by the ACA. BCBS of Massachusetts first issued a press release in late June on the BCRA noting the significant Medicaid cuts as a short-term solution that would ultimately undermine the insurance market. The insurer issued a follow up release on the amended version of the BCRA emphasizing that the bill would still cost millions of people coverage. The firm stated that “the bill could also create a new divide between those who are seriously ill and those who are healthy.” Shortly afterward, BCBS released a stance in opposition to any effort to repeal the ACA, further encouraging a bipartisan approach to improve the ACA. In line with its continued stance to support efforts to stabilize the insurance market, the firm reiterated its position in late July in favor of improving the ACA without costing Americans their coverage.
Healthcare providers’ reactions to the state of healthcare legislation currently echo a resounding support for bipartisanship that does not repeal coverage but rather expands it and stabilizes the insurance market. Not all the insurance providers in our coverage group have issued statements on this topic, though it stands to reason that more organizations should be keeping a pulse on how this could change member costs and coverage. Most firms would likely benefit from increasing government coverage for Americans and keeping costs low for all. However, such a highly politicized topic and the confusion surrounding each specific piece of legislation may be keeping many insurers from weighing in on the subject as the future of health insurance unfolds in the Senate.