Kahn, About To Leave HIAA, Reflects On Health Care Industry
Charles “Chip” Kahn III, president of the Health Insurance Association of America, Washington, plans to leave HIAA June 17 and take over as president of the Federation of American Hospitals.
The federation has a national office on Pennsylvania Avenue, only six blocks away from HIAAs office on F Street, but it and HIAA are often light-years apart on health policy matters.
Kahn is best known for his work at HIAA. In 1993 and 1994, he was in charge of developing the famous “Harry and Louise” advertising campaign that turned the tide against the Clinton health care reform proposals.
Kahn returned to HIAA in 1998, when it faced stiff competition from the health maintenance organizations trade groups, and brought the big managed care companies back into the fold.
Kahn may have had even more influence from 1995 to 1998, when he was staff director of the House Ways and Means Committee Health Subcommittee.
While at the subcommittee, Kahn helped shape the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. He also helped shape provisions in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, enacted to save Medicare from insolvency.
Kahn now serves on the Competitive Pricing Advisory Committee, a board that advises the government on ways to use private-sector ideas to improve Medicare.
Kahn holds a bachelors degree from Johns Hopkins University and a masters degree in public health from Tulane University.
The following is an edited version of remarks Kahn made during a recent interview with National Underwriter.
NU: What about your time at HIAA makes you the proudest?
CK: One was that, with the help of a great staff and many CEOs, we were able in 1998 to bring back most of the companies that left in the early 1990s. Aetna, CIGNA, Horizon
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The other area that has really made progress is our insurance education area. We are in many ways the best resource for information on managed care, health insurance and long-term care.
We also made real progress with the strange bedfellows movement, working with organizations we dont normally work with and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to raise the level of consciousness about the uninsured. There hasnt been any legislation enacted, but the issue is in play.
In the last year of the Clinton administration, HIAA was able to join with AARP and put together a bipartisan coalition that supported the deduction for long-term care premiums, as well as a tax credit for caregivers. We have a president now thats sympathetic. I remain optimistic that [enacting the deduction] is something we can achieve.
What about your time at HIAA makes you the least proud?
I think weve been successful at representing industry needs across a broad range of products. I think weve done a good job of balancing the advocacy needs of our members. But interests sometimes collide.
Why are you leaving HIAA for the Federation of American Hospitals?
It has terrific companies, and it plays an integral role in the delivery of health care. And, besides that, they gave me a good offer.
What would you like to accomplish at the federation?
At HIAA, I spent a lot of time seeing CEOs at their companies to find out what they thought. At the federation, I plan to do the same thing, visiting the companies, learning about their businesses. In a sense, thats how an agenda forms for a member advocacy organization.
But I hope Ill be able to keep up the work on the uninsured. For hospitals, thats a key issue. They bear the brunt of the problem.
What do you think about the future of the private health insurers?
I see the health insurance and health plan industry as being in a number of binds. The customer is the employer, but the consumers are the employees. Someone else is buying their insurance.
Theres a tug and a pull between the motivations and needs of the customers and the consumers.
The industry was successful at doing what the employers wanted and keeping coverage affordable. But now you have provider dissidence. The industry is in a real bind.