WASHINGTON–Top officials of Aetna Inc. and Cigna Inc. effectively said they would not support efforts of the new Republican majority in the House to slow implementation of or repeal the new healthcare reform law.
“We can’t go back. We need to keep moving forward,” said Mark Bertolini, president of Aetna, Hartford, in comments at a Reuters Health Summit in New York Wednesday.
Bertolini becomes CEO of the company in December and chairman next April.
David Cordani, CEO of Cigna, Philadelphia, said at the same meeting that repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) would be a waste of time, although he said there is room to improve it.
“I don’t think it’s in our society’s best interest to expend energy in repealing the law,” Cordani said.
Their comments were at panel discussions where they were asked their opinion of vows by Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), likely to be the next speaker of the House, to repeal and replace the law.
Boehner and likely majority leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have said they will hold an early vote after taking over in January to repeal the law and will also seek to use their control over government purse strings to stymie efforts by President Obama to execute the hundreds of provisions of the law.
Bertolini said such efforts could lead the healthcare industry to “a bad place.” A stalemate with a total funding shutdown “would be problematic,” he said.
Cordani said he doesn’t foresee that the House Republicans would be able to impose any immediate changes in the law because Democrats control the Senate and the president has his veto pen. He also said his company is “knee-deep” in carrying out various provisions of the new law.
One item Cordani hopes to see is more time to executing the complex changes in the medical loss ratio (MLR) provisions of PPACA before the health exchange system is launched in 2014.
The MLR, which will start to be implemented in January, is a complex ratio that limits administration costs to between 15% and 20% of healthcare premiums.
“The administration understands the predicament,” Cordani said. “A phase-in process will help to minimize the impact.”