There was at least one instance of cold feet on the way to the altar, but at long last it looks as if the American Association of Health Plans and the Health Insurance Association of America are finally ready to tie the knot.
Three years ago, these two heavyweights in the health coverage lobbying arena came close to merging, but called it off. According to spokespersons for both organizations, the failure to merge the first time around did not kill (we hate to say it) the urge to merge.
And no wonder. This is one merger that makes tremendous sense. Rather than continuing to duplicate efforts to get across essentially the same message, the new association will be able to speak for the industry with a more powerful, more unified voice.
The union of HIAA with its 300 members and AAHP, with its 1,000 health plans, will create an organization that represents the gamut of health coverages to about 270 million Americans. Covering that much of the population would alone give the new group tremendous clout.
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But on a more substantive level, as a spokesperson for AAHP told National Underwriter, both organizations are very close in terms of public policy. Both are committed to supporting the role of the private sector in health care and finding private sector answers to the issues of cost, quality, access and choice.