Worried that red-state governors are standing in the way of business opportunities, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is “teaching its member plans how to overcome conservative opposition to the Democrats’ health care law,” Politico’s Kate Nocera reports:
At a closed-door meeting Wednesday at D.C.’s Grand Hyatt with member plans from across the country, association officials covered topics like “Moving exchanges forward,” “What motivates conservatives to oppose creating exchanges? Myths vs. facts,” and “Tactics and strategies,” according to a meeting agenda. The group heard from Mississippi Department of Insurance Senior Attorney Aaron Sisk during lunch.
According to multiple people who attended the meeting, there was a focus on what Blues plans could do to counter “hard-core conservatives” who are refusing to set up exchanges. There was an emphasis on working with coalitions at the grass-roots level to engage both the business community and constituents to help influence legislatures.
“The idea was really to go over what has worked so far in red states,” one meeting attendee said. “It was important to hear from Mississippi, a very, very red state that is using their high risk pool as a way to follow the law.”
Insurers have generally accepted the inevitability of the Affordable Care Act and have worked to shape its implementation to meet their needs. For instance, health lobbyists are pressuring Congress to repeal taxes on the industry, while urging the Department of Health and Human Services to adopt exchange regulations that would allow almost all private insurers to participate in the new marketplaces and provide greater leeway for plans to design the standard essential health benefits package that will be offered in 2014.
At the same time, insurers are preparing for the expansion of new customers. Last month, Cigna — one of the nation’s largest health insurers — kicked off a $25 million ad campaign designed to attract the individual consumers who will begin shopping for their own policies and the industry joined forces with health care and consumer groups to form the “Enroll America” campaign, an effort to “encourage states to make it easy for people to sign up for coverage, by providing model regulations” and “get the word out among the uninsured, through advertising and community outreach.”
Nocera’s article underlines just how crucial the law — and its implementation — is for the insurers’ bottom lines. As one recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers concluded, the health reform’s state-based health care exchanges provide companies with a lucrative new market in which they stand to gain up to $200 billion in revenue by 2019.