Insurance Companies Bend to House Dems Letter

SEVEN LEADING DEMS INCLUDING STARK CRITICIZE POLICY OF RESCISSION

CONGRESSRescission has long symbolized the unscrupulous actions by health insurance companies. Eliminating the act of canceling medical insurance to customers once they became sick was also one of the defining features of last month’s historic health care reform legislations, but doing away with the scourge of recission is still months away despite the reforms.

In a letter from seven leading congressional Democrats, including Rep. Pete Stark, some of the largest insurance companies were asked to voluntarily stop rescinding health insurance months before the Nov. 1 starting date written into the legislation.

WellPoint, Inc., one of the insurers mentioned in yesterday’s letter acquiesced to the congress members demands and said it will not participate in rescission past May 1. Kaiser Permanete, Assurant, UnitedHealth Group, Humana, Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Aetna were the other insurance companies to have received the letter.

WellPoint’s move puts its competitors in an unenviable position of following their lead or risk further pressure from congress. “The race is on,” said Stark. “WellPoint took the first step, now it’s up to the other insurance companies to show they’re serious about making health reform work. They need to end rescissions, and put in place a system where every proposed cancellation is reviewed by an independent third party.”

At the state level, last year Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi’s bill into law banning the practice of recission by insurance companies after two years.

-STEVEN TAVARES

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