Council News

October 27, 2010

AHIP leader: ‘Healthcare costs still crushing the country’ (Healthcare Finance News)

AHIP leader: ‘Healthcare costs still crushing the country’ (Healthcare Finance News)
by Larry McClain, Healthcare Finance News | Oct 27, 2010

NASHVILLE, TN – Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, says improvements in healthcare access may come at the expense of cost containment and quality as reform moves forward.

In a speech to the Nashville Healthcare Council, Ignagni recounted how the AHIP board had taken a leadership role in 2006 in anticipating and framing the healthcare reform dialogue. In AHIP’s view, it was essential that reform provide improvements in three areas: access, cost and quality.

“As we moved closer to passage of the legislation, access crowded out cost containment and quality,” Ignagni said. “Most politicians didn’t think you could tackle all three simultaneously. They felt that focusing on value and performance was taking on too much, too fast. But to create a sustainable healthcare system, we need to improve value, productivity and consumer satisfaction.”

Ignagni said it’s futile to worry about the political identity of the next Congress.

“We need all stakeholders to get out of their comfort zone and participate in finding solutions,” she said. “Healthcare costs are still crushing the country. We have to go beyond the mindset of ‘my cost containment is somebody else’s revenue deprivation.’ To curb costs, all stakeholders must be called to a higher purpose.”

She added that “five or six states tried healthcare reform without involving all the major stakeholders, and those efforts stalled because costs skyrocketed.”

Ignagni said legislators need to consider the consequences of cost hikes that will take place in 2014, when access provisions go into effect for individuals and small businesses.

“That’s when the sales tax on premiums starts to kick in, and it’s going to be a real jolt for a lot of people,” she said.

Ignagni said Accountable Care Organizations are a step in the right direction, but she worries that standards are not yet in place.

“We need to make sure that ACOs don’t follow the path of PHOs in the ’90s because that didn’t work very well,” she said.

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