Foundation Calls on Malloy to Ask Insurance Commissioner Wade to Resign and Start a New Anthem-Cigna Merger Process

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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.

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17 State Legislators Send Letter to CT Insurance Commissioner Requesting Transparency and Accountability of Proposed Health Insurance Mergers; New Polling Data Shows Connecticut Voters Very Concerned

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May 25, 2016

The Connecticut Campaign for Consumer Choice and State Representative Gregg Haddad (D-Mansfield) today released a letter sent to CT Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade from 17 state legislators asking for a thorough review process of proposed insurance mergers.  The organization also released new poll results showing that Connecticut voters are very concerned about the mergers.  A copy of the letter, poll results and poll analysis are attached.

In their letter to the Commissioner, the legislators pressed for multiple public hearings to be held across the state, for consumer advocates to be granted intervenor status in the proceedings and to commission a study of the impact the mergers will have on Connecticut jobs.

“Given the potential impact on the health insurance of families throughout Connecticut, it’s very concerning that polling shows most consumers have not heard about the proposed merger. People need to be made aware that this is happening, and they must be given a chance to provide input,” Rep. Gregg Haddad (D-Mansfield) said. “That’s why my colleagues and I have submitted a list of requests that would help ensure this process is open and transparent.”

"We applaud these legislators for standing up for what all of us already know; this merger is likely to leave a negative impact on household budgets, people's health and jobs in the state,” stated Frances Padilla, President of Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut

“The overwhelming majority of Connecticut voters are concerned that these mergers will have a detrimental impact on the cost and quality of health care in Connecticut.  There is also a concern that these mergers will lead to job losses in Connecticut,” said Jim Williams of Public Policy Polling who conducted the poll of 834 Connecticut voters last week.

“Aetna’s announcement last week that they are not committed to staying here should be a wake-up call to the Connecticut Insurance Department,” said Tom Swan, Executive Director of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group.  “We call upon Commissioner Wade and the Department to ensure that Connecticut jobs are protected as part of the review process.”

Matthew Katz, EVP/CEO of the Connecticut State Medical Society, expressed concern about the impact of the mergers on Connecticut’s already-concentrated insurance market:

“If the proposed mergers take place, we’re going to see an unprecedented level of monopolistic and monopsonistic power. Roughly 64% of the Connecticut insurance market would be controlled by one company [Anthem-Cigna] – and in some areas of the state, it would be closer to 70-75%. 

It’s pretty clear that these record levels of market concentration will result in higher prices for patients and employers. It’s also unrealistic to think that physicians would be able to negotiate competitive reimbursement rates in such a hyper-concentrated environment. If a mega-insurer is paying below market rates, and 70% of your patients are covered by that insurer, you can’t continue to see patients and sustain your practice.             

Past experience suggests that these mergers will result in higher costs and reduced access to care for Connecticut patients.”

The proposed Anthem-Cigna and Aetna-Humana mergers are likely to have a negative impact on both the cost and quality of care in Connecticut, permanently changing our state’s health care system for patients, physicians and other stakeholders. The Connecticut Insurance Department has not yet scheduled a public hearing on the Anthem-Cigna merger, and the nation’s eyes are on Connecticut.

Governor’s Executive Order Creates Opportunity for Meaningful Reform in the Certificate of Need Process

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February 26, 2016             

 

Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut applauds Governor Malloy’s executive order, effectively halting mergers and acquisitions of big hospital systems until a complete review of Connecticut’s “Certificate of Need” process is completed. 

“This is a move in the right direction,” said Frances Padilla, president of Universal Health Care Foundation. "We have called for a moratorium on hospital consolidations since 2014, and urged an aligned approach to population health and health care planning, including a review of how the Certificate of Need process can more completely evaluate the pros and cons of individual hospital proposals."

The Foundation is encouraged that the executive order calls for a “more comprehensive approach to health planning,” and an “alignment with other health reform efforts,” in the state.  This gives Connecticut the chance to strengthen accountability to the public, elevate the voice of state residents in decisions directly affecting them and make progress toward quality and affordable care.

The task force that will execute the order’s charge appears to be comprised of all the necessary stakeholders.  However, the Foundation is concerned about whether it provides for adequate input and participation of consumers. 

The Foundation will be vigilant to ensure that consumers are well represented at the table and that there are opportunities for the task force to be informed by the experience of real people.

The 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 our threaten financial security and continues to be an important source of quality employment and vitality in our communities. 

 

Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut Praises Supreme Court for its King v. Burwell Decision

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June 25, 2015

Contact: Lynne Ide, Director of Program & Policy 860-215-0206

 

Today the Supreme Court upheld a measure of the Affordable Care Act that allows states without health insurance marketplaces to keep federal subsidies. Today's decision means millions of American families have continued access to affordable health care coverage. 

"This ruling is on the right side of history," said Frances G. Padilla, Foundation President. "It sends a clear message that we will not return to a day when people chose not to have health insurance because they couldn't afford it." 

At the heart of the King v. Burwell case was a challenge to the use of federal tax credits to subsidize the cost of premiums in states where governors chose not to establish their own health insurance exchanges and whose residents instead got insurance through the federal exchange. The use of the word “state” in the Affordable Care Act law was used to make the case that the legislation intended to subsidize coverage only in states that established their own exchanges. 

 A decision in the other direction would have eliminated subsides for millions of Americans who rely on them to pay for health care insurance. According to FamiliesUSA, “in the second open enrollment period [in 2015], around 7.5 million people in the federally facilitated states received premium tax credits. All of these individuals would [eventually] lose their tax credits, and most of them would not be able to afford health insurance.” 

Although Connecticut has its own health insurance exchange, a decision against subsidies on the federal exchange would have signaled the unraveling of the Affordable Care Act and Connecticut would not have been spared its effects. "The latest distraction to the goal of transforming the health care system was struck down," Padilla added, "we will aggressively continue the work." 

The Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut serves as a catalyst that engages residents and communities in shaping a health system that provides universal access to quality health care and promotes health in Connecticut. We believe that health care is a fundamental right and that our work is part of a broader movement for social and economic justice.

Foundation Lauds Bold Health Care Reform (SB 811): Bipartisan Effort Puts the Health and Well-Being of People First

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June 1, 2015

Contact: Lynne Ide, Director of Program & Policy 860-215-0206

 

Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut President Frances G. Padilla praised the state Senate and House on bipartisan passage of a far-reaching omnibus health care reform bill.

"In a remarkable bipartisan effort, state leaders took bold action to reign in runaway health care costs and put accountability back into the system," said Padilla.

"This bill puts Connecticut back in the forefront of health reform. We are looking to the future rather than letting it run over us," added Padilla. "Too many people fail to get access to quality care at a price they can afford. It's high time our state stepped in to protect people when they are seeking care."

The foundation views the bill as a major building block in aligning the state's health care system for the future. The bill includes key pro-consumer and accountability features:

  • Creates transparency through web-based access to health care pricing and quality
  • Protects patients from "surprise billing" and "facility fees"
  • Creation of a statewide health information exchange

The bill also makes long-overdue strides in planning for the health needs of the 21st century:

  • Directs the Health Care Cabinet to study cost containment models from other states and make recommendations for how the state can move forward
  • Creates clear parameters for conversion and consolidation of hospitals and health networks
  • Develop funding mechanisms to support community-based hospitals (rather than have the only options for such hospitals be acquisition by a larger hospital or for-profit entity)

Senate Bill 811, is the bipartisan effort of Senate President Marty Looney (D) and Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R), which resulted from work they started via last year's Bipartisan Roundtable on Hospitals and Health Care. It passed in the Senate on May 28 (30-5) and an amended version passed in the House on May 30 (98-43). The bill passed unanimously through the Senate this afternoon.

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