Newly Named AHIP Unveils New Health Reform Initiative

By

Washington

Under the new name “Americas Health Insurance Plans,” the association formerly known as AAHP-HIAA unveiled a new, integrated policy initiative aimed at achieving comprehensive health care reform.

“This is a new way of thinking about how to improve health care,” says Karen Ignagni, president of the Washington-based AHIP. “The more we work on these issues, the more we understand that the priorities of quality, access and affordability are closely interrelated, and that progress in one area can yield significant results elsewhere.”

Ignagni spoke at a press briefing announcing the associations new name. AHIP is the new association formed by the merger of the American Association of Health Plans and the Health Insurance Association of America.

Ignagni says AHIPs new policy initiative represents a first-of-its-kind effort that links all the elements of health care reform into a comprehensive program.

AHIP, Ignagni says, is not pursuing specific legislation at this time because legislating is a multiyear effort. Rather, she says, AHIP wants to discuss the policy initiative with as many stakeholders as possible to develop partnerships aimed at achieving reform.

The first component of the new policy is improved quality, Ignagni says, adding that the nation must invest in quality research and advance evidence-based medicine.

She says the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality will receive only $303 million in funding during 2004, which is just 1% of the budget of the National Institutes of Health.

In addition, Ignagni says, research must be made more transparent and accessible for both providers and consumers.

As for evidence-based medicine, Ignagni notes that AHIP has asked every state that requires external review of health plan decisions to base those reviews on evidence-based medicine. So far, she says, not one state has done so.

The second component is access, she says, and AHIP believes the uninsured population must be “disaggregated” so policies can be targeted at the specific element causing people to be uninsured.

According to the policy initiative, a variety of approaches are needed to reduce the number of uninsured Americans, including creation of high-risk health pools, bridge loans to help workers maintain their coverage when they become unemployed, public programs for those living below the poverty line and tax incentives for higher income workers who are uninsured.

The third component, Ignagni says, is affordability. This includes, she says, legal reform as well as an examination of the impact of mandates on health care costs.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, March 12, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.