Sebelius Meets With Insurance Execs, Challenges Them To Be Transparent
Reuters: During a meeting today, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pressed the CEOs of some of the nation's largest health insurers about increases in insurance premiums. "The meeting added more uncertainty for an industry that has already become Democrats' top target in their bid to overhaul the nation's healthcare system, and shares of health insurers continued to fall in late-morning trading." President Obama dropped in during the session to hand the executives a letter from a woman whose premium is set to increase by 40%. "Insurers have said they must raise rates to cover skyrocketing healthcare costs at a time when more people are dropping coverage amid a sour economy" (Heavey, 3/4).
The Wall Street Journal: "The CEOs of UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH), WellPoint Inc. (WLP), Aetna Inc. (AET), Health Care Service Corp. and CIGNA Corp. (CI) participated in the session in the Roosevelt Room. Officials from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners also were in attendance." Sebelius reportedly requested that the insurers "file online their rate requests, along with actuarial data that supports those requests. 'At the end of the day I still think there is a concern that the medical trends don't match the rate increases,' she said." She and other lawmakers have criticized Wellpoint's planned increases for individual Anthem Blue Cross of California members. "Thursday's session comes as Obama hopes to propel the debate over health care to a conclusion. He's meeting a group of influential lawmakers later in the date to advance his cause" (Pulizzi, 3/4).
Fox News: "Sebelius said the issue of high premiums isn't limited to one state or one company, 'The individual and small group market is seeing double-digit rate increases across the board,' she said" (3/4).
Bloomberg/Business Week: "Aetna Inc.'s chief executive officer answered criticism from President Barack Obama's top health official over surging rates by saying unnecessary medicine is helping drive up costs." The meeting was held to discuss "'jaw dropping-rate increases' and Obama stopped by to say the current situation is 'unsustainable,' Sebelius said after the closed-door gathering. In remarks before the doors shut, she said the industry executives and state insurance commissioners were meeting 'to see what kind of ideas we can share'" (Gaouette and Thomas, 3/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.