Former HHS Secretary, Two Former CMS Administrators Compare Part D, Insurance Exchange Launches in AIS Interview

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Three former top government officials reflect on some of the challenges they faced with Part D, and look at some of the parallels between that program’s launch and the implementation of health insurance exchanges, in the current issue of Atlantic Information Services’s Inside Health Insurance Exchanges.

For its Aug. 1 issue, Atlantic Information Services’s (AIS) Inside Health Insurance Exchanges interviews three former top government officials who were instrumental in the crafting and launch of Medicare Part D. Former HHS secretary Michael Leavitt, and former CMS administrators Thomas Scully and Mark McClellan discuss the politics surrounding Part D and the reform law-mandated health insurance exchanges, as well as the pace of implementation.

Like the Affordable Care Act, in the summer of 2005, health insurers were launching programs to educate members about a complex, untested and politically controversial entitlement program, frantically upgrading technology infrastructure and hiring staff to administer the new benefits and answer questions from enrollees. McClellan observes an increased complexity in launching exchanges, saying, “I think this is a more difficult undertaking in that the insurance products are more complex, there are more stakeholders that need to be involved and the systems integration is more complicated.” However, the exchanges have the benefit of a gradual implementation. “The [Obama] administration is aiming for 7 million [enrollees] by the end of the first open-enrollment period [which concludes in March 2014]. It won’t be as big of a shift on day one as Part D needed to be.”

All three find similarities in the level of political opposition. “With Part D,” Leavitt says, “there were major members of the Congress that voted against it…who just didn’t want it to succeed, period. Others just stayed away from it because they expected it to fail. The biggest difference now is that the parties are now reversed.” Similarly, McClellan notes, “Remember that Part D resulted from a pretty divisive and tight series of congressional votes including a late-night House vote that was very close. The law had little Democratic support in the end.” Scully observes, “I think it was a mistake for this administration not to get bipartisan support for [the ACA]. If this law would have been bipartisan, it would have been smaller because there would have been more compromise.”

To read the article in its entirety, including the officials’ thoughts on outreach efforts and technology infrastructure, visit http://aishealth.com/archive/nhex080113-03 .

About Inside Health Insurance Exchanges
Inside Health Insurance Exchanges provides hard-hitting news and strategies on the details of state and private health insurance exchanges, for business planners with health plans, hospitals and health systems, medical groups, ancillary providers, suppliers, pharma companies and state health policy makers. The biweekly newsletter answers questions about this cornerstone of the health reform law — who will participate, what product designs will look like, the effect on enrollment and more. Subscribers receive reliable intelligence on how to make the most of the enormous transformation in health insurance that is about to unfold and how to succeed in the insurance marketplace of tomorrow.

About AIS
Atlantic Information Services, Inc. (AIS) is a publishing and information company that has been serving the health care industry for more than 25 years. It develops highly targeted news, data and strategic information for managers in hospitals, health plans, medical group practices, pharmaceutical companies and other health care organizations. AIS products include print and electronic newsletters, websites, looseleafs, books, strategic reports, databases, webinars and conferences. Learn more at http://AISHealth.com.

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Jill Brown, Executive Editor
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