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NASHCO Letter to Secretary Sebelius 01/17/2013

NASHCO Letter to Secretary Sebelius 01/17/2013

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Published by S360DC
Letter from the National Alliance of State Health CO-OPs to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius regarding funding for the CO-OP loan program.
Letter from the National Alliance of State Health CO-OPs to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius regarding funding for the CO-OP loan program.

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Published by: S360DC on Jan 18, 2013
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 801 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 715PO Box 604Washington DC 20044202-333-2239; nashco.dc@gmail.com
 January 17, 2013The Honorable Kathleen SebeliusDepartment of Health and Human Services200 Independence Ave, SWWashington, DC 20201Dear Secretary Sebelius:One of the central provisions of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act established a loanprogram to provide start-up capital to private, nonprofit health insurance CO-OPs in an effort toincrease competition in the health insurance market, reduce costs for consumers, and encourageinnovation that will improve patient outcomes. Additionally, CO-OPs will promote collaborationbetween providers, payers, and consumers while expanding coverage to the previously-uninsured, including high-risk consumers and residents of rural and underserved areas. To date,24 health insurance CO-OPS have signed loan agreements with your department and over 40additional CO-OP development groups have submitted applications for loan funding. CO-OPsthat have already signed funding agreements are not affected by this rescission and will play anessential part in improving the health care system in 24 states beginning next year.Residents of the 24 states which have funded CO-OPs can expect to soon begin seeing thebenefits of increased competition. However, Congress took action last week which woulddeprive Americans living in the other 26 states and the District of Columbia of these benefits.The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, a bill that primarily addressed issues associated withthe
“fiscal cliff,”
also contained a provision that rescinded any unobligated funds in the loanprogram. CO-OP developers
especially those who submitted applications by the December 31,2012 deadline
were dismayed that Congress would rush through a provision that undermines afoundational component of the Affordable Care Act and disregards the substantial time andmoney already invested by CO-OP developers who recently submitted applications. It wasparticularly shocking when you consider that the CBO estimates that the rescission will accountfor a reduction of only $200 million in budget outlays, an amount that pales in comparison to thepremium cost savings that would be realized by consumers thanks to successful new CO-OPapplicants. The importance of the competition provided by CO-OPs has never been moreapparent; just this week, the New York Times reported that health insurers around the country
are “
seeking and winning double-digit increases in premiums
as high as 26 percent. Thisrescission by Congress seriously und
ermines one of the American people’s most effective
bulwarks against these rapidly increasing premiums.While we are surprised and deeply disappointed
 by this development, America’s health care CO
-OPs are pushing forward with our goal of providing as many Americans as possible with quality,affordable health care starting in early 2014 when the exchanges become operational. TheNational Alliance of State Health CO-OPs, the CO-OP trade association, appreciates theproductive relationship that we have enjoyed with HHS, and will continue to work closely withthe Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight. We ask that HHS take anyavailable steps to support those CO-OPs which were abruptly cut off from the loan program,including working with Congress to restore funding.
Thank you for your continued efforts to improve America’s health care system.
We will continueto keep open the lines of communication between HHS and NASHCO, and look forward to
working with the department to support our nation’s health care CO
-OPs.Sincerely,John MorrisonPresident, NASHCOJanice S. VanRiperExecutive Director and CEO, NASHCOBrett BäbyCEO, Coordinated Health Plans of OhioMember of the Board, NASHCO
 Linn BakerCEO, Arches Community Healthcare (Utah)Member of the Board, NASHCODr. Peter BeilensonEvergreen Health Cooperative (Maryland)Member of the Board, NASHCOJerry Burgess
CEO, Consumer’s Choice (South Ca
rolina)CEO, Community Health Alliance (Tennessee)Member of the Board, NASHCOChuck ButlerMember of the Board, NASHCOBob De VitaCEO, Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative (Wisconsin)Member of the Board, NASHCO

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