Council News

October 26, 2010

Insurer group’s CEO: Fix health reform, or small businesses will pay big (Nashville Business Journal)

Insurer group’s CEO: Fix health reform, or small businesses will pay big (Nashville Business Journal)
by April Wortham, Nashville Business Journal | Oct 26, 2010

America’s Health Insurance Plans CEO Karen Ignagni says policy makers need to reassess major components of health care reform or risk burying individuals and small businesses under health care’s rising costs.

Speaking today at a luncheon hosted by the Nashville Health Care Council, Ignagni said reform succeeded in giving more Americans access to care, but failed to address a major objective: cost containment.

“Unless we get back to these goals and start talking about the underlying issues, we are going to careening to a place that no one in this room wants to be,” she said.

America’s Health Insurance Plans is the nation’s largest trade group for health insurance plans, representing nearly 1,300 member companies that provide health insurance coverage to more than 200 million Americans. Vicky Gregg, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, is chairman of the group this year.

Ignagni said America’s Health Insurance Plans supported efforts to increase health care access and do away with restrictions on pre-existing medical conditions, but it objects to some of the legislation’s provisions.

For example, Ignagni said that, beginning in 2014, individuals and small businesses will be subject to a “sales tax” on health insurance that amounts to 3 percent of premiums. When combined with other provisions, such as the effort to narrow the gap that older workers and younger families pay for employer-sponsored health insurance, she said the end result will be more than Americans can bear.

“Are there remedies for all this? Absolutely, but I think we’ve got to begin talking about them and looking at them,” she said.

Ignagni said she advocates a “uniquely American” solution, one that is a blend of the public and private sectors. She told members of the Nashville Health Care Council that they had an important role to play going forward.

“I think we should just lock the doors and let you figure it out, because you’re going to do it better than any other group around the country,” she said.

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