Administration, Health Insurers Point Fingers At Each Other In Premium Hike Dust-Up
The Obama administration and insurance industry executives are continuing their battle over rate increases.
Politico: "Insurance industry executives sat down with administration officials in the White House last week to justify their rising premium costs, attributing them to increasing medical costs. But it's an answer President Barack Obama apparently wasn't buying. In his weekly Saturday address, he said insurance companies 'couldn't give me a straight answer as to why they keep arbitrarily and massively raising premiums.' ... Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, said. ... 'I don't agree with that because what we're seeing today [in premiums] reflects ... exploding costs. And for Congress to walk away, first to decry the issue of increases now and then to walk away and ... not to do something about it, not to take that opportunity, I think that's wrong'" (Frates, 3/9).
"According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, health plan costs increased 73.5 percent from 2000 to 2009. That compares with 104.2 percent for prescription drugs, 82.8 percent for physician and clinical services, 82.5 percent for hospital care, and 82.7 percent for total national health expenditures, over the same period," The Christian Science Monitor reports. "But 10-year averages do not capture the sharp increases consumers have seen from companies such as Anthem Blue Cross in California, which recently announced increases of 39 percent. Obama and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have seized on this announcement as Exhibit A for why Congress needs to act" (Chaddock, 3/8).
Chicago Sun-Times: "Individual health-insurance rates in Illinois will rise this year up to 60 percent, according to Michael McRaith, director of insurance for Illinois" (Guy, 3/8).
The Roanoke Times: "Health insurance rates for individual plans offered by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Virginia have increased as much as 20.5 percent within the past six months, with more increases planned for April" (Jones, 3/9).
Health New England, a plan with 114,000 members in Western Massachusetts "raised its rates about 15 percent compared with last year," according to its chief executive, The (Springfield, Mass.) Republican reports. In addition to doctors, hospitals and drug companies driving up costs, the executive said, individuals are contributing, too, by requesting more tests, MRIs and prescriptions (Kinney, 3/9).
Roll Call: "A number of progressive and union-backed groups are planning to protest" the rate hikes at the insurance industry's annual policy meeting at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Washington Tuesday. Health Care for America Now is organizing the protest and AFSCME members are expected to attend (Roth, 3/9).