Safety-net Health Plans Support Health Reform Bill

Les Masterson, for HealthLeaders Media , July 21, 2009

A day after America's Health Insurance Plans launched its health reform television campaign, another organization of health plans announced its support today of a healthcare reform bill that was approved by two House committees last week.

In a letter to congressional leaders, the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, which makes up 43 non-profit safety-net health plans in 23 states that serve more than six million people enrolled in public health plans, wrote that the America's Healthy Choices Act of 2009 (H.R. 3200) "will expand coverage to more Americans, protect the interests of low-income and medically needy people, and preserve vital safety-net programs."

"This legislation is the right approach to greatly expand access to affordable coverage and protect critical programs for the most needy and vulnerable," said Margaret A. Murray, chief executive officer of ACAP. "We urge other health organizations to join us in supporting this solution, and we urge Congress to act promptly to make reform a reality. The time for comprehensive health reform is now."

ACAP said it supports the bill because it would expand coverage and improve programs that serve the poor, medically needy, and elderly. According to ACAP, some of those provisions include:

  • Expanding Medicaid coverage to everyone below 133% of the federal poverty level

  • Preserving an independent Medicaid outside the proposed health insurance exchange

  • Extending the Medicaid drug rebate program to health plans that will maintain the integrity of health plans' care management systems

  • Addressing inadequate risk adjustment for Medicare Advantage plans serving beneficiaries that are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid

  • Improving coordination with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for dually eligible Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries

Bob Thompson, chairman of ACAP's Board of Directors and president of Monroe Plan for Health Care in Rochester, NY, called the House bill an "unequivocal win for America and the people who need help the most."

"It provides universal coverage for the poorest Americans, makes healthcare coverage affordable for low- and middle-income Americans, protects health plans' ability to coordinate care, and ensures that the most vulnerable people are protected," he said.

Les Masterson is an editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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