Monday, November 9, 2009

Insurance industry displeased with health bill passage

health insurance

Passage of the House health reform bill on Nov. 7 received a resounding thumbs up from most sectors of the healthcare industry, though the insurance lobby remained unrelenting in its criticism of the legislation.

Lawmakers approved the legislation by a vote of 220-215, an historic legislative measure that “marks a pivotal point toward bringing about a healthcare system with meaningful coverage for almost all Americans—an essential component for achieving effective and durable reform,” Chip Kahn, president and chief executive officer of the Federation of American Hospitals, said in a written statement.

J. James Rohack, president of the American Medical Association, also praised the bill, stating it would empower patient and physician decision making, as well as “make substantial investments in quality; institute prevention and wellness initiatives; provide incentives to states that adopt certificate of merit and/or early offer liability reforms; and reduce administrative burdens.”

Physician groups are counting on Congress to address another piece of legislation in the coming weeks that seeks to fix Medicare's troubled physician payment formula.

AARP CEO A. Barry Rand was pleased the bill met the organization's goals of improving Medicare's benefits and making coverage more affordable through its insurance market reforms.

The insurance industry, hit hard by a series of new restrictions under the bill, would beg to differ with that assessment. Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, asserted in a written statement that the bill fails to bend the healthcare cost curve “and breaks the promise that those who like their current coverage can keep it.”

A new government-run plan will cause millions to lose their existing coverage “and draconian Medicare Advantage cuts will force millions of seniors out of the program entirely,” Ignagni said.