Friday, March 23, 2012
Star-Advertiser editorial sides with consumers on health board appointments
by Larry Geller
I’ll have to say it looks good in print. A Star-Advertiser editorial this morning (Friday, 3/23/2012) both reflects and even extends the consumer position on reforming the critical board that will guide health care delivery in Hawaii starting in 2014.
The editorial calls for the complete redo of the way the Legislature set up the Hawaii Health Connector, the board that will determine the policies and the rules that govern how those without health insurance can purchase policies under the Affordable Care Act.
The paper’s support should boost the spirits of consumer groups that will continue to oppose the Governor’s appointments of insurance company representatives to the board. The next step will be testimony at a 9 a.m. hearing this morning at the Legislature.
The ideal solution would be a broader revision of Act 205, one that would both allow for industry consultation on the creation of health plans without conflicts among the voting members, and for the public to be engaged.
[Star-Advertierser, Redo health exchange model, p. A17, 3/23/2012]
Advocates have based a recommended amendment to Act 205 on California law that bars insurers from serving on a health connector board due to conflicts of interest. The Star-Advertiser editorial suggests the California model for the whole thing:
A group of public-interest organizations has rightly sounded an alarm about how Act 205, which enabled the setup of the exchange, passed last year without sufficient scrutiny and debate.
A better model would be one similar to the California Health Benefit Exchange, described as an "independent public entity within state government."
The consumer groups will be holding a rally at the State Capitol rotunda at 8:15 this morning. The hearing on the Governor’s appointees begins at 9 a.m. in room 229. [Disclosure: I am president of Kokua Council, one of the consumer groups pushing for reform]
The Chair of the Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection, Senator Rosalyn Baker, has circulated emails strongly supporting the three insurance company appointees. So it is important that those who care about how the Affordable Care Act will benefit Hawaii consumers turn out for the hearing to express their views to the committee before a a vote is taken.this morning
Contrast that with the unfortunate Maui News editorial from yesterday, March 22: