Bloomberg News

Obama Presses Insurers to Help Minimize Health-Law Disruptions

November 15, 2013

President Barack Obama sought help from 15 insurance industry executives, including those from Humana Inc. (HUM:US) and Blue Cross Blue Shield, to minimize disruptions for consumers amid a rocky start for his health-care law.

Obama and the executives today discussed efforts to begin direct enrollment in subsidized plans through insurance company websites, according to a person familiar with the meeting. The insurers also raised concerns about attracting enough young and healthy enrollees, particularly following the president’s decision to let more Americans keep existing plans, said the person, who asked for anonymity because the meeting was private.

The president, his advisers and the executives also talked about improving the flow of data from the federal online exchange that insurers need to enroll people, the person said.

“We all share a similar value, which is we want to make sure that Americans have good, solid coverage that gives them the security they need,” Obama said before the start of the discussion in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.

Obama invited the group to meet with him a day after he announced that the administration was altering regulations to permit insurance companies to extend existing policies for an additional year, even though they don’t meet requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The insurance industry warned the action may change the risk pool and lead to higher premiums.

House Vote

The Republican-led House earlier today passed legislation that lets insurers sell for another year health policies that don’t meet the requirements of the 2010 law, and Obama has threatened to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

Obama announced the one-year reprieve from policy cancellations as he sought to quell a potential revolt by Democrats facing re-election next year before the House vote. The debut of the insurance marketplace, the core of the law, has been marred by flaws in the federal healthcare.gov website and by the insurance cancellation letters sent out to hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Mark Bertolini, chief executive officer, Aetna Inc. (AET:US); Bruce Broussard, CEO of Humana; David Cordani, chief executive officer of Cigna Corp. (CI:US), and Chet Burrell, CEO of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield were among the executives at the meeting.

They were joined by Karen Ignagni, president and chief executive officer of America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry group.

‘Good Discussion’

Also present were Jay Gellert, CEO of Health Net Inc.; Patrick Geraghty, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida; Patricia Hemingway Hall, CEO of Health Care Service Corp.; Daniel Hilferty, CEO of Independence Blue Cross; J. Mario Molina, CEO of Molina Healthcare Inc.; James Roosevelt Jr. co-chairman of Tufts Health Care Institute; Scott Serota, CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield Association; Joseph Swedish, CEO of WellPoint Inc. (WLP:US); Bernard Tyson, incoming CEO of Kaiser Permanente; and J. Bradley Wilson, chairman of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation.

Leaving the meeting, Ignagni called it a “very good discussion.” Geraghty characterized it as a “positive meeting.”

Ignagni warned yesterday that the one-year grace period for existing policies may cause premiums to rise and may not be widely available, depending on decisions of state insurance commissioners.

The group previously met with Obama at the White House on Oct. 23 to discuss the technical problems on the federal health insurance exchange website.

To contact the reporters on this story: Roger Runningen in Washington at rrunningen@bloomberg.net; Mike Dorning in Washington at mdorning@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net


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Companies Mentioned

  • HUM
    (Humana Inc)
    • $134.91 USD
    • 1.73
    • 1.28%
  • AET
    (Aetna Inc)
    • $83.69 USD
    • -0.22
    • -0.26%
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