Eight Health Leaders Respond to Obama's Healthcare Summit

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , February 26, 2010

"Finally, at the heart of any successful health system reform legislation must be continuing recognition of the need to remove barriers to patient choice.

"Physicians, not unlike the broader community of voters, have sharply divergent views about pending reform plans. Yet, the overwhelming majority of physicians know without doubt that major reforms to our nation's health system are necessary."

Blair Childs
Senior vice president
Public affairs
Premier Healthcare Alliance

"We applaud the Obama Administration and Congressional leaders for continuing discussions to advance healthcare reform legislation.

"While disagreements persist, participating lawmakers agreed there is a need to address the perverse incentives in the current system that lead to inefficiency, excessive costs and rewards for quantity rather than quality.

"Members of the Premier Healthcare Alliance remain committed to legislative reforms that more appropriately align these incentives.

"These include the budget neutral expansion of hospital value-based purchasing, a national pilot to test the effectiveness of bundled payments, and provisions allowing CMS to join existing Accountable Care Organizations. These concepts should be advanced in any form of legislation, regardless of whether Congress tackles these issues incrementally or as part of a more expansive package."

Jane Cline
National Association of Insurance Commissioners
West Virginia Insurance Commissioner

Sandy Praeger
NAIC Health and Managed Care Committee
Kansas Insurance Commissioner

"There has been a lot of discussion about a provision in the President's healthcare reform plan that would grant the Secretary of Health and Human Services some authority over proposed healthcare premium increases.

"The state insurance regulators, represented by the NAIC, have been working closely with the congressional drafters and the administration to make certain the legislation preserves the critical role of state regulators and continues the use of objective standards in the rate review process.

"We understand that the final language will simply establish a federal backstop to assist those regulators who currently do not have full rate review authority under state law and ensure that proposed rate increases are truly justified and receive a thorough review before they become effective, and we understand the new federal authority would not be used to overturn state determinations.

"We support this concept of a federal-state partnership, as states are in the best position to make objective, actuarially-based determinations about the appropriateness of health insurance premiums. We appreciate the willingness of Secretary Sebelius, Sen. Feinstein, and Rep. Schakowsky to work with state regulators to enhance rate review across the country.

"State insurance regulators are very pleased that the President's overall proposal emphasizes state-based reforms. The plan includes state-designed exchanges and considerable flexibility for states to implement the federal standards in a way that best meets the needs of their populations.

"We also applaud the insurance market reforms, which guarantee that individuals will be able to purchase insurance even with pre-existing conditions and ensure that individuals are not rated based on health status.

"However, we remain concerned about the inadequacy of the individual mandate, which could lead to a dysfunctional marketplace and higher rates for consumers. We are hopeful this critical issue will be addressed.

"Finally, the members of the NAIC are strongly opposed to any bill in which the federal government allows insurance carriers to sell their products in our states using the regulatory rules of another state.

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