In wake of reform ruling, costs, collaboration top of payers' minds

UnitedHealth Group: 'Healthcare modernization did not begin and must not end' with PPCA

In the wake of yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling, insurance companies large and small responded to the high court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act--and almost every one focused on reducing costs and collaborating with lawmakers.

As America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) said in its statement, the reform law expands coverage, but provisions such as the premium tax will have "unintended consequences of raising costs and disrupting coverage unless they are addressed."

As such, insurers will "continue to lead efforts to reform the payment and delivery system to promote prevention and wellness, help patients and physicians manage chronic disease and reward quality care," AHIP CEO Karen Ignani said.

Humana specifically called out the reform law's inability to address cost as the cause of healthcare crisis.

"Affordable and stable coverage must be our top priority," CEO Michael McCallister said in a statement. "Humana will continue to collaborate with policymakers on both sides of the political aisle, as well as other key stakeholders, to promote healthcare affordability and to enhance quality, while ensuring a smooth and stable transition to 2014 when several of the health care law's most significant provisions take effect."

"The Supreme Court has done its important work, but more work remains to provide secure and affordable healthcare for every American," Cigna said in a statement. As the insurer works to develop innovative customer rewards, health and wellness initiatives and accountable care organizations, it will collaborate with "healthcare professionals, legislators and other stakeholders to find the best solutions that provide coverage for all" and reduce "costly waste."

WellPoint said the road toward healthcare reform will be a challenge. "However, we look forward to working constructively with policymakers and other key stakeholders to build a healthcare delivery system that provides security and affordability to all Americans," the insurer said in an email to FierceHealthPayer.

Likewise, Highmark believes healthcare costs remain a "serious issue" with reform. "We believe that much more needs to be done across the healthcare system and through public policy to improve quality and control the spiraling cost of care," Spokesman Aaron Billger said in a statement.

"We will continue to implement the law while working with policymakers to fix provisions that will increase costs, such as the health insurance tax that will add hundreds of dollars to families' premiums each year," Blue Cross Blue Shield Association CEO Scott Serota said.

Health Care Service Corporation, which owns several Blues plans, said it will continue to implement the law and work closely with employer groups, members, providers, lawmakers and regulators to support a market that works for its customers, is sustainable over time, and provides the broadest coverage options possible, HCSC said in a statement emailed to FierceHealthPayer.

Blue Shield of California, meanwhile, said it's "pleased" with the reform decision. "As strong supporters of healthcare reform, we will continue to advocate for full and effective implementation of the law while seeking additional ways to make coverage more affordable," the insurer said in a statement.

And last, but not least, UnitedHealth Group pledged that healthcare reform will continue. "Healthcare modernization did not begin and must not end with the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," the company said. "Now is the time to apply proven ideas and best practices to build a better healthcare system."

To learn more:
- read the AHIP statement
- see the Cigna statement
- read the Highmark statement
- see the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association statement
- check out the UnitedHealth Group statement
- read the Humana statemen
- check out the Blue Shield of California statement

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