Private Insurers Step Into Spotlight On Health Care Reform
"Don't expect the private insurance industry to go away under any kind of health-care reform initiative. That's because most key health-reform measures gaining momentum in Washington not only leave private health plans intact but also may give them a greater role," The Chicago Tribune reports. Insurers also "got to ride the coattails" of the America Medical Association's support for the private insurance system as President Barack Obama "sought the physicians' support" of his public insurance option. Health plans were "happy that the AMA stripped the words 'public option' from a resolution."
In a new blog launched Wednesday, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) "quoted media reports from AMA immediate past president Dr. Nancy Nielsen espousing the importance of private health plans." Robert Zirkelback, spokesman for AHIP, said "The AMA can speak for themselves, but there is evidence that a government-run plan would significantly impact providers across the country." While lawmakers are "pushing bills to limit insurers' ability to deny coverage" and "a bipartisan proposal would keep Medicaid and Medicare in business," "analysts see private plans also being involved" (Japsen, 6/19).
Meanwhile, "managed care stocks surged Thursday as the health care reform push wobbled in Washington," AP/Forbes reports. "Edward Jones analyst Steve Shubitz noted that the entire health care sector rose in trading Thursday. But he added that managed care stocks are particularly volatile. 'These stocks kind of trade on emotion,' he said in an interview. 'It's like people now on the margin are saying, 'Maybe there won't be a public plan or maybe... it will be so watered down that it will take a lot of years before it really impacts the private insurance companies" (Murphy, 6/18).
In other insurance news, "five of Colorado's largest health insurance plans - Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare - will contribute money to a pilot program that coordinates medical and reimbursement practices for 17 primary care practice sites in the state, with the goal of improving health care quality and managing costs," the Denver Business Journal reports. "The two-year project is designed to give participating doctors better financial incentives for prescribing preventive care that may improve patients' health and hold down medical costs." It will "cover about 25,000 patients in participating family practices" and will "allow graduates from medical residency programs to participate in the program, in an effort to attract more primary care physicians to the state." The program will be monitored by the Harvard School of Public Health (Mook, 6/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.