Hostile ballot initiatives confront health insurers
Insurance industry officials will gather in Washington this week to discuss the biggest political, legal, legislative and regulatory issues their companies face at the local level.
America’s Health Insurance Plans, the main insurance advocacy group, which spent $11.5 million on lobbying last year, will host its annual state health issues conference Thursday and Friday. About two dozen speakers will talk about the potential impact of the state healthcare ballot initiatives, the midterm elections, major legal rulings, Medicaid expansion, drug costs, telehealth and other matters.
Among the speakers during the gathering is Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who so far has unsuccessfully pushed his state’s Republican-led Legislature to expand Medicaid to low-income adults. Like hospitals, managed-care insurers stand to benefit financially from Medicaid expansion, which would add about 400,000 Virginians to the rolls, mostly in private health plans.
Two of the hottest ballot initiatives affecting insurers are Proposition 45 in California, which would give the state insurance commissioner new authority to block premium increases, and Measure 17 in South Dakota, which would require insurers to contract with all healthcare providers willing to meet insurers’ conditions for participation. A vice president of the California Association of Health Plans and the president of the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry will speak about those initiatives.