Health-Care and Insurance Industries Fight to Maintain Status Quo

Lobbyists for the health-care and insurance industries have mobilized under a clear message: The Affordable Care Act is working reasonably well and expanding the federal role in health care should be avoided. The group is responding to Republican plans to replace the health-care legislation and Democratic conversations about instituting a “Medicare for All” program. More than 25 members have joined the coalition, including the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and the nation’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.

“We have a structure that frankly works for most Americans,” Charles N. Kahn III, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, which represents investor-owned hospitals, told The New York Times. “Let’s make it work for all Americans. We reject the notion that we need to turn the whole apple cart over and start all over again.”

Members of Congress recently unveiled legislation to offer Medicare to adults older than 50, which sparked the lobbying efforts. The proposal could radically change the way health-care providers do business and could drastically shrink the role and the revenues of insurers.

“Insurance companies are fighting it because they are afraid of the prospect of a potent new competitor that will cut into their profits,” Representative Brian Higgins (D-NY), who is the chief sponsor of the bill, told The New York Times. “Medicare has lower administrative costs and lower executive salaries and could use its bargaining power to get better deals from hospitals and other health care providers.”

Source: The New York Times, February 23, 2019.