WellPoint's Possible Effect on Reform

February 12, 2010

Health insurer WellPoint’s obscene rate hike has some onlookers speculating that the move could revive the stalled healthcare reform legislation.

Health insurer WellPoint’s obscene rate hike has some onlookers speculating that the move could revive the stalled healthcare reform legislation.

The 39 percent rate hike for some California customers (in light of the insurer’s $2.7 billion profit last quarter) is a good example to President Obama for why reform is necessary. A White House spokesman said, “You’d be hard-pressed to find a better example of why reform is so urgent, and it’s going to continue to be part of the case the president makes,” according to the Washington Post.

The bills are stalled because, as the Post puts it “Democrats in the house can’t accept the health care bill that Democrats in the Senate have produced, and vice versa.” But the rate hike news might help make a case for the need to at least give the reform efforts a try again.

And meanwhile, that 21 percent Medicare physician payment cut is scheduled to take effect in a couple weeks, unless of course Congress takes action again. The AMA has stepped up its lobbying efforts to persuade lawmakers to permanently repeal the SGR formula.