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Health insurance execs and others react to King v. Burwell ruling

Humana applauds Supreme Court's decision; Aetna pushes for more reform

From expressing joy for the millions of Americans who will retain federal financial assistance for health insurance to urging Congress to do still more to improve healthcare reform to touting their own stellar track records of caring for members, major insurance companies and execs reacted to last week's Supreme Court ruling in King v. Burwell with a decidedly sunny vibe.

Here's a roundup of comments, observations and responses to the King v. Burwell ruling--and, perhaps, a lesson in the power of positive public relations:

Blue Cross Blue Shield of America:

The "Supreme Court ruling ensures that millions of Americans can receive financial assistance from the government to help them continue to afford their health insurance coverage," CEO Scott Serota said in a statement.

"There is still more work to be done to make healthcare more affordable. BCBS companies are partnering with patients, physicians and hospitals to transform the healthcare system to provide coordinated, quality care that helps patients get healthy faster and stay healthy longer, while reining in costs for everyone."


"Most people enrolled in state and federally-run exchange plans--including more than 80 percent of Humana members with coverage through an exchange--receive a subsidy," Humana said in a statement.

"As Humana works to improve the health of the communities we serve, all of our members--including the hundreds of thousands of Humana members who are enrolled in exchange-based plans--should know that we are committed to helping them achieve their best health."


"Subsidies played a significant role in attracting the 6.4 million consumers who depended on subsidies to buy healthcare plans on the federally run health exchanges. This decision ensures that their healthcare benefits will not be disrupted," Aetna said in a blog post.

"We believe that reform of the Affordable Care Act is still needed. We urge Congress to focus on solutions that improve quality, transition our payment system to value-based care and broaden consumer choice."

Independence Blue Cross:

The "Supreme Court ruling helps ensure that we can continue to provide the security and stability that our members have come to expect from Independence Blue Cross, no matter how they purchase their health insurance coverage," CEO Daniel Hilferty said in a statement emailed to FierceHealthPayer.

"We have been serving our members for nearly 80 years, and no one has done more than we have to help make healthcare reform work."


The Supreme Court's King v. Burwell decision "means your UnitedHealthcare health coverage is unaffected by the ruling. Our company will continue to focus on helping the people we serve live healthier lives and making the health care system work better for everyone," UnitedHealth said in a statement.

America's Health Insurance Plans:

"With the certainty provided by the Supreme Court's decision, now is the time to focus on what matters most to consumers--ensuring access to affordable coverage and high-quality health care. Health plans will continue to lead in advancing this goal," said AHIP Interim CEO Dan Durham.

Others take a more cautious stance

From other quarters, the message was "challenges remain."

For example:

"Affordable Care Act implementation returns to normal following [the] ruling but debate over the law is likely far from over," Elizabeth Carpenter, director of consulting firm Avalere, said in a statement emailed to FierceHealthPayer. "Congress may still pursue strategies to alter the Affordable Care Act, and the debate over reform is likely to reignite as part of the 2016 presidential race."

"As critical as [the] ruling is, significant challenges remain to realize the potential of the law's sweeping insurance reforms and expansions. This next set of challenges includes continuing to increase the number of Americans who have health insurance, keeping premiums affordable, and protecting people from high out-of-pocket costs," Sara Collins and David Blumenthal wrote in a blog post for the Commonwealth Fund.

"Access to subsidies is a vital component of Obamacare," said Gary Lauer, Chairman and CEO of eHealth, an online private health insurance exchange. "But the fact is that enrollments through government-run exchanges during the most recent open enrollment period were disappointing. Many government-run exchanges are not well-positioned to be financially self-sustaining, and the cost of enrolling new consumers is too high."

To learn more:
- here's the BCBSA statement
- read the Commonwealth Fund blog
- check out the AHIP statement
- read the Humana statement
- check out the Aetna blog post
- here's the UnitedHealth statement  
- check out the eHealth statement

Related Articles:
3 payer issues to focus on in wake of King v. Burwell ruling
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Did King v. Burwell ruling just kill state-based exchanges?
Supreme Court upholds ACA's federal subsidies 6-3