Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut calls on Governor Malloy to ask for the resignation of Insurance Department Commissioner Katharine Wade, and to start fresh with a new review of the Anthem-Cigna merger that is free of conflict, transparent and open to real public input.
In light of the recent revelation of Wade's secretive nod of approval for the Aetna-Humana merger and the facts outlined in a June 1 investigative story published by the International Business Times, it is clear that the close relationship between Wade and the insurance companies casts a long, dark shadow on the regulatory process.
The article points out Wade’s deep conflicts, including that, "Wade was a longtime Cigna lobbyist whose father-in-law works at a law firm that lobbies for the company, whose mother and brother previously worked at Cigna, and whose husband still does." The story exposes a tangled web of family and professional relationships and the flow of political contributions from the insurance companies involved.
Given her close connections to Cigna, Wade's oversight of the merger review process does not bode well for Connecticut residents receiving the benefit of unbiased, fair and transparent oversight, specifically when it comes to the review of the Anthem-Cigna merger.
"The very appearance of conflict of interest a year ago was enough to raise concerns about the Commissioner's ability to be fair and impartial. These latest developments are a clarion call to Governor Malloy to guarantee the health and financial interests of Connecticut residents do not fall victim to the influence of the powerful and privileged insurance industry," said Frances Padilla, president of Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut.
In addition to restarting the merger process, with a leader free of conflict, Connecticut needs a new, transparent and thorough review process that includes ample opportunity for robust consumer input.
“We cannot allow business as usual with this mega-merger, which will impact 64 percent of the private health insurance market in Connecticut,” Padilla said. “Connecticut residents must be protected.”
Moving forward, the state must set up further measures to guard against conflict of interest. Universal Health Care Foundation believes one way to accomplish this is by creating a separate Health Insurance Department which is free from influence of the industry it is supposed to regulate.
Universal Health Care Foundation envisions a health care system that is accountable and responsive to the people it serves, and that supports our health, takes excellent care of all of us when we are sick at a cost that doesn't threaten our financial security and continues to be an important source of quality employment and vitality in our communities.