Matt Eyles, the new president of AHIP Matt Eyles (Photo: AHIP)

Fidelity Investments has decided that it needs to have a seat at the health insurance policy table.

The Boston-based money manager is one of the seven new member companies at America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a major health insurer trade group.

Fidelity joined AHIP because it now manages about $3.5 billion in health savings account assets, AHIP said Wednesday.

(Related: Matt Eyles to Succeed Marilyn Tavenner As AHIP President)

For AHIP, another major victory was persuading CareFirst Inc. to return to the AHIP membership roster.

CareFirst — an Owings Mills, Maryland-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield carrier with 3.2 million major medical plan medical enrollees — left AHIP a year ago and now is returning.

In addition to being a large carrier in its own right, CareFirst is a company that provides coverage for many members of Congress, Capital Hill staffers, and private-sector policymakers in the Washington area.

Another new member of new note, National Guardian Life Insurance Company, offers Medicare supplement insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, life insurance and annuities. But it has gotten the most attention for daring to enter the market for stand-alone long-term care insurance.

(Related: NGL Expands Group Long-Term Care Insurance Service Area)

The other new AHIP member companies are Bright Health, a company that offers individual, family, and Medicare Advantage plans in Arizona, Colorado, and Alabama; Central States Health and Life Company of Omaha. a company that is re-entering the health market, by offering Medicare supplement insurance plans, this year; First Medical Health Plan, a carrier in Puerto Rico; and Inland Empire Health Plan, a company that manages Medicare and Medicaid plans in California.

The Background

AHIP was formed from the merger of the Health Insurance Association of America and a managed care company group, the American Association of Health Plans, in 2003.

The group began to suffer the public loss of big member carriers in 2015, when major financial problems with the Affordable Care Act individual major medical market stabilization programs surfaced.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. left in 2015, Aetna Inc. left in 2017, and Humana Inc. dropped out about a year ago.

Matt Eyles, who was AHIP’s chief operating officer, took over as AHIP’s president in June 2018.

The 2019 Gameboard

In 2018, AHIP was working with a Republican serving as president as Republicans in control of both the House and the Senate. The main concern was efforts by Republicans in the House to block funding for ACA public exchange stabilization programs, and for a program that has helped low-income ACA public exchange plan enrollees pay their deductibles.

This year, Trump continues to be president, Republicans continue to control the Senate, and Democrats are in charge of the House.

Some of the most visible Democrats in the House, and Gavin Newsom, the new governor of California, have been strong supporters of Medicare-for-all proposals that could prohibit the sale of private major medical insurance.

In the past, many moderate Democrats have supported the Medicare Advantage program, but some of the most liberal Democrats have been hostile to the idea of private companies being involved in efforts to provide Medicare coverage.

This week, AHIP is promoting the Coalition for Medicare Choices, a group that’s asking Congress to protect and strengthen the Medicare Advantage program from any changes that might occur this spring.

— Read Cigna CEO Set to Lead AHIP in 2019on ThinkAdvisor.

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