A former health insurance executive is telling folks how insurance companies have made billions at the cost of consumer health. Now he says a healthcare bill in Missouri is a bad one. Wendell Potter used to be an executive with Humana and Cigna. Now he talks to policy makers and the public about how reform is necessary. He says Gov. Jay Nixon faces a dilemma. Should he sign a bill intended to help people get coverage or veto it because of amendments that benefit insurers instead of the public?
Potter says the bill would enable insurers to achieve one of their top objectives: converting HMOs into high-deductible plans. Nixon has not indicated whether he will sign the bill or veto it. If he does nothing, it will automatically become law after July 15th.
Potter says the bill does many things, and one is that it defines how the federal government can hire “navigators” to help uninsured people navigate their way through the federal healthcare plan. He says and amendment says those navigators must be licensed as agents or brokers, and that would be a major victory for those agents and brokers who are already concerned that their incomes might take a hit when people start shopping for insurance on the online health insurance marketplaces or exchanges that states must have up and running by Oct. 1.
The bill, commonly called “the Telemedicine Bill,” is sponsored by Kansas City Sen. Kiki Curls, and would require insurers to pay the same for specialty care delivered via telemedicine as they would for an office visit. Potter says the intention of the original legislation is good, but several amendments added to the bill made it benefit insurance companies, not patients.