16 Apr 2015 Free Market Group Asks Major Health Insurer to Explain Continued Support for ObamaCare
As U.S. Supreme Court Considers Case that May Unravel ObamaCare, National Center for Public Policy Presents Humana Board with a Baker’s Dozen of Free-Market Health Care Reform Plans
Left-Wing Narrative that Conservatives Have No Viable Health Care Alternatives to ObamaCare is False
Atlanta, GA / Washington, D.C. – At today’s annual meeting of Humana shareholders in Atlanta, Georgia, the National Center for Public Policy Research questioned the health insurance giant’s continued support for ObamaCare in the face of new legal challenges and, rebutting the left-wing narrative that conservatives have no alternatives to ObamaCare, presented the company’s leaders with a baker’s dozen of free-market health care alternatives to ObamaCare.
“The basic message that I took away from Humana’s CEO Bruce Broussard is that since ObamaCare is the law of the land, the company must work within the parameters of that law. Well, Jim Crow, prohibition and the alien and sedition acts were all once laws too, but America rightly disposed of those relics,” said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq.
At the meeting, Danhof pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court recently heard a case that could unravel ObamaCare and provide an opportunity for market-based reforms that control costs while improving patient care. He stated:
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell, a case that could potentially alter the landscape of the American health care system and provide an opportunity for true market-oriented reforms. As written, the Affordable Care Act was intended to force states to set up health insurance exchanges. Many chose not to. Contrary to the rule of law, the Obama Administration patched this gap with a regulatory fix so that individuals in states without exchanges could purchase insurance on the federal exchange and receive taxpayer-provided subsidies.
Humana fully backed the Administration’s potentially unlawful action.
Humana is a member of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), an industry trade association that wrote an amicus brief defending the Affordable Care Act and its current subsidy-laden structure.
Danhof also asked:
[Given] the opportunity to unravel the extremely unpopular ObamaCare law that, in your own words, fails to address the root of America’s health care problems, why did Humana choose to support ObamaCare’s current structure in the King case? And, if the plaintiffs prevail in the case, would you be willing to consider working with conservative and free market leaders to enact market-based patient-centric solutions such as those outlined in the plans I am presenting you with today?
Humana’s CEO, Bruce D. Broussard, responded:
I think at Humana, we have one fundamental belief and that is that individuals have the right to receive health care. And we as an organization are supporting that in multiple different ways, I think as you look at where we have our businesses – Medicare Advantage, Part B, are two great examples of that. We have stated on many occasions that any law, existing or in-the-future laws are not perfect and I think some of the details around the existing specific exchanges need to have some changes. We are always look[ing] for input from various different organizations to do that, we provide our input and we continue to want to make it better. And so our goal is to improve it, and improve it in a way that continues to improve choice, affordability and access to care.
Danhof’s full question, as prepared for delivery, is available here and an audio recording of the exchange between Danhof and Broussard is available here.
“Broussard’s statement that health care is a right is an odd one. It certainly isn’t provided for in the Constitution – and millions of Americans make rational decisions to either self-insure or refuse to purchase health insurance. Furthermore, he runs an insurance company. If health care is a right, is he saying his company must pay for every procedure from every person who wants coverage? From cradle to grave?” asked Danhof.
“Broussard defended AHIP’s amicus brief,” noted Danhof. “That brief did not address the core issue in King v. Burwell, which is whether the ObamaCare law allows for paying a subsidy for anyone who purchased health insurance from anything other than a state-constructed exchange. That’s the only issue on the table. Yet AHIP submitted a brief that mentions nothing about this from a truly legal perspective, but instead is really a curious list of policy preferences submitted with an appeal that the Court uphold ObamaCare’s current structure.”
“After the meeting, Broussard and other company executives approached me and did seem very interested in reviewing the market-based plans that I presented. No matter how the Court rules in the King case, I am hopeful that Humana will learn from its past mistakes and begin to work with conservatives and libertarians towards cost-saving, patient-centric health care solutions.”
“Humana and AHIP have tremendous clout to move the needle on health care policy discussions. It shouldn’t be solely up to conservative and free-market organizations such as the National Center for Public Policy Research to fight for the market-based health care system that can best serve the needs of the American public. Industry could be a force for good, and it is choosing not to be, which is regrettable.”
Danhof provided each Humana board member with a copy of “If Plaintiffs Prevail in King v. Burwell, Conservatives and Libertarians Have Many Health Care Reform Options Ready to Help People who Lose ObamaCare Subsidies,” a National Policy Analysis paper authored by the National Center’s senior fellow for health care policy, David Hogberg, Ph.D.
Danhof also provided each board member with a copy of a Google document detailing the parameters of each of 13 market-based reform plans.
As Dr. Hogberg explained in a press release announcing his paper, “[t]he political left is trying to scare people by saying that the political right has no plan to help those people if they lose their subsidies. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
“It is possible that Humana and other health insurers continue to support ObamaCare because the Administration has been quick to extend favors to large health insurers as the American people face fines and, in many instances, dramatically increased health care costs under the ACA,” said Danhof.
As written, ObamaCare provides a taxpayer-funded bailout to the insurance industry under various risk adjustment provisions. Humana may reportedly reap $450 million from these provisions. At last year’s Humana shareholder meeting, the National Center asked Humana’s CEO to reject this taxpayer bailout and he immediately declined. As it turns out, at that time, the health insurance industry was busy working hand-in-hand with the Obama White House to take even more taxpayer money.
Last July, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform issued a report showing how health insurance executives and lobbyists worked closely with senior Obama Administration advisor Valerie Jarrett to increase this taxpayer-funded health insurance bailout.
At the time, Danhof commented on the importance of not only calling out the Obama Administration, but also corporate America for its role in the ills of the Affordable Care Act:
By exposing the industry and applying pressure on companies who willingly take taxpayer bailouts, the reputational risk to the likes of Aetna and Humana may start to outweigh the taxpayer largess.
The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform report clearly shows that the Obama Administration appears more than willing to do the bidding of the health insurance industry. This means it is vital to cut the snake off at its head before it can request even more taxpayer bailouts.
“If the plaintiffs prevail in the King case, conservatives and libertarians stand ready with comprehensive free-market health care reform plans. In the meantime, insurance industry leaders need to be held accountable for their role in the continuing failure that is ObamaCare,” said Danhof. “The Free Enterprise Project will do just that.”
The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market corporate activist group. In 2014, Free Enterprise Project representatives participated in 52 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers rights and many other important public policy issues.
Today’s Humana meeting marks the sixth shareholder meeting for the National Center in 2015.
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.
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