Thursday, May 23, 2013

Insurers feel pressure from health group with ties to White House

A major scandal that is just getting crowded out by bigger scandals.

"The links between a nonprofit promoting President Obama’s healthcare law and the White House have created an “air of expectation” that insurers will contribute to the group, according to an insurance industry official.

Current and former administration officials have taken on leadership and fundraising roles for Enroll America, a nonprofit aiming to make sure people sign up for new coverage options. As the ties grow deeper, the organization has come to feel like “just an arm of the administration,” said one official who works closely with insurers.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has already come under fire from congressional Republicans because she has raised money for the organization.

They say it puts inappropriate pressure on insurers, who will need the department’s approval to sell their products through a federally run insurance exchange in more than half the country.
In addition to Sebelius’s involvement, Obama himself made a vague but personal appeal for a close partnership with insurers, which some in the industry saw as a precursor to direct fundraising pitches.

Several industry sources also believe the White House orchestrated a recent leadership change in which a former administration official took the reins of Enroll America. The group’s chairman disputed that account.

At the beginning of this year, Anne Filipic left the White House Office of Public Engagement to become president of Enroll America.
Officials in the insurance industry believe the White House pushed for the change, fearing that the group’s origins in political advocacy were not ideally suited to the massive and focused enrollment campaign."

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