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House Leaders To Insurers: Stop Rescissions Now

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The chairmen of the House committees that approved health care reform legislation today called on insurers to act preemptively to halt the practice of rescission, whereby a company drops a client from its insurance rolls just when care is needed the most.

Insurers have decided to act early, before the law kicks in, to allow the children of customers to remain on their parents' insurance until the age of 26. Now, the chairmen are urging the companies to go further.

The specter of Congress requesting that private insurers act immediately raises the question of why the body didn't simply write an earlier date into the legislation.

The letter was signed by Reps. Henry A. Waxman (Calif.), Sandy Levin (Mich.), George Miller (Calif.), Peter Stark (Calif.), Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), Bart Stupak (Mich.), John Dingell (Mich.) and Rob Andrews (N.J.).

Read the letter:

Angela F. Braly

Chair of the Board, President, Chief Executive Officer
WellPoint Inc.

George C. Halvorson
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Kaiser Permanente

Don Hamm
President and Chief Executive Officer
Assurant Health

Stephen J. Hemsley
President and Chief Executive Officer
UnitedHealth Group Inc.

Michael B. McCallister
President and Chief Executive Officer
Humana Inc.

Scott P. Serota
President and Chief Executive Officer
Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

Ronald A. Williams
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Aetna Inc.

Dear Madam and Sirs:

Last week, most of your companies announced plans to implement ahead of schedule the provision in the health reform law allowing individuals up to age 26 to obtain coverage through their parents' health insurance. This step will help many bridge the gap between graduation and the effective date of this requirement. This decision signals that you are willing to work to make health insurance more accessible and affordable. We commend you for this step.

Also last week, Secretary Sebelius, reacting to recent media reports, wrote to Ms. Braly asking that WellPoint immediately end its efforts to rescind health insurance coverage except in cases of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of material fact. These rescissions hurt patients who need coverage the most, such as women diagnosed with breast cancer. We are writing to ask all of your companies to end any such abusive practices immediately.

In addition, to ensure that rescissions occur only in cases of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of material fact, we request that each of your companies immediately institute a policy of independent, external third party review. Under such a procedure, no individual health insurance policy could be rescinded until the review confirms that fraud or material misrepresentation has in fact occurred.

Taking these actions now would be consistent with your earlier decision to implement consumer protections for individuals under 26 voluntarily and would further demonstrate a commitment to reliable coverage for your policyholders.

Sincerely,

Sander Levin
Chair, House Committee on Ways and Means

Henry A. Waxman
Chair, House Committee on Energy and Commerce

George Miller
Chair, House Committee on Education and Labor

Pete Stark
Chair, House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee

Frank Pallone, Jr.
Chair, House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee

Bart Stupak
Chair, House Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee

John D. Dingell
Chairman Emeritus, House Committee on Energy and Commerce

Rob Andrews
Chair, House Education and Labor Health Subcommittee

cc: Karen Ignagni, America's Health Insurance Plans

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