Blues CEO: Mend, don’t end ACA
Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2015 will not be successful, so Congress should instead focus on improving the federal Affordable Care Act, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan President and CEO Dan Loepp said Monday.
Speaking before members of the Detroit Economic Club, Loepp said the 2010 federal law has resulted in health care improvements for millions of Americans, but it’s too complicated and creates too many hurdles for businesses.
“I know a lot of people want to scrap the law, but I think we’ve seen some positive results,” said Loepp, who heads Michigan’s largest health insurer. “We know the ACA is incredibly polarizing. We know it’s incredibly complicated. And there certainly are things we would like to see fixed.” Loepp would target “inflexible” rules that require insurers to end coverage after three months if consumers have an outstanding balance, even if customers owe only a few cents.
“Employers have too many new administrative rules that take the focus off their main task, things like waiting periods and new government reporting requirements,” Loepp said.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan benefits from the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. It has expanded its health plans for recipients of Medicaid, the federal health care program for low-income residents that was expanded in Michigan under Obamacare.
It also has expanded its offerings to try to gain more customers who are required by the federal law to buy health insurance or face a penalty payment.
Another Michigan insurer offered its advice to Congress.
“There is certainly room within the Affordable Care Act to modify the laws to relieve administrative burden for employers and better support consumers,” said Don Whitford, vice president for the east region market for Grand Rapids-based Priority Health. “But where we see the greatest need within the industry is addressing issues like transparency — to better inform consumers about their health care costs and quality.”
Loepp said he expects the Republican-controlled House to approve legislation to repeal the federal health law after the start of the new congressional session in January. But he doubted there will be enough support to pass the repeal in the Senate. And President Barack Obama has promised to veto the bill.
“In the end, any way this plays itself out, we will be right back to where we are today, with a well-intentioned but complicated law that’s got a lot of people covered, so it’s my opinion that we move forward — and we’ve got to put the brightest people in the room,” Loepp said.