The powerful health insurance lobby, America’s Health Insurance Plans, has added seven new members following a change in leadership at the association and coming battles over “Medicare-for-All” in 2020 and beyond.
The trade group, known to Washington insiders and policy wonks as “AHIP,” has long been one of the nation’s most powerful lobbies and its support of healthcare reform in the Obama era was key to 2010 passage into law of the Affordable Care Act. Having private insurers with roles in administering government health benefits kept AHIP from opposing the ACA’s passage in Congress nine years ago and the private insurer’s role will be tested again as Democrats push an expansion of Medicare benefits in the coming years a way to get to universal healthcare coverage.
But in recent years, the intense political divide in Washington has made lobbying for healthcare issues more of a challenge and AHIP in recent years lost key members including Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealth Group. Some of those departures came as insurers became less focused on paying for healthcare and more focused on providing healthcare as UnitedHealth, in particular, grew its Optum health services unit into a $100 billion business and has its own growing team of lobbyists.
In the last two years, the dramatic changes in the political climate in Washington and the era of Donald Trump included a new CEO at AHIP. Last June, Matt Eyles became AHIP’s president and CEO, replacing Marilyn Tavenner, a former head of Medicare in the Obama administration and long-time HCA Holdings hospital executive.
AHIP Tuesday said it has added Bright Health, which sells individual coverage under the ACA and has a growing Medicare Advantage business; CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, which has more than 3 million members in Maryland, Washington and Virginia; Central States Health and Life Company of Omaha, which AHIP said was “re-entering the health market and will begin offering Medicare Supplement plans in 2019.”
Other new AHIP members are:
- Fidelity, which offers health savings account administration services to employers and individuals across the country.
- First Medical Health Plan, which offers a range of health benefits including Medicaid and other coverage for more than 550,000 people in Puerto Rico.
- Inland Empire Health Plan, a nonprofit plan offering Medicaid and Medicare benefits to more than 1 million southern Californians.
- National Guardian Life, which sells a mix of individual and group health insurance as well as Medicare supplemental coverage.
“These new members represent the breadth, depth and variety of health care choices that Americans need to protect their health and financial security,” AHIP’s Eyles said in a statement. “We look forward to working with them to make coverage and care more affordable and accessible for everyone we serve.”
Date: January 24, 2019