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Sebelius Summons Insurers to Discuss Premium

Letter invites insurer CEOs and NAIC leaders to attend a March 3 meeting to discuss the insurance companies' premiums.

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has sent what her office characterizes as an invitation to health insurer CEOs to a March 3 meeting at HHS to discuss their companies' insurance premiums. The letter was sent to the CEOs of UnitedHealth Group Inc., WellPoint Inc., Aetna Inc., Health Care Service Corporation and CIGNA HealthCare Inc. as well as representatives of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Reactions of insurers that Insurance & Technology has been able to reach as of press time have been measured and brief. A spokesperson from CIGNA says, "We have received the letter from Secretary Sebelius this afternoon and look forward to discussing the drivers of health costs and how we can best ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care coverage."

An Aetna source said, "We will review the request upon receipt and respond appropriately."

The text of Secretary Sebelius' letter is as follows:

Dear ______,

Across the country, health insurance premium increases are impacting American families and business owners, and experts indicate that premiums will continue to rise. In recent weeks, we have learned of premium increases of nearly 40 percent in one state and we know significant premium increases are not isolated incidents. I am concerned about these increases, which make it harder for people to access the health care they need, and eager to hear the justification for these increases and steps we can take to create a more stable system that keeps premium costs down for all Americans.

To that end, I will be hosting a meeting with insurance company executives and hope you will accept this invitation to join us on Wednesday, March 3 at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C. at 11:30 AM. Our conversation will benefit from your experience and expertise.

I hope this meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss how health insurance reform can bring down health care costs and fix our broken health insurance system. President Obama has offered a health insurance reform proposal that begins to give middle class families and small business owners the health care security they have been losing over the past 16 years. This plan was informed by our discussions with a wide variety of stakeholders over the past year including representatives from NAIC. Now, as we move forward, we welcome your thoughts and ideas about how reform can ensure all Americans have the stable, secure, affordable health care coverage they need and deserve.

We all share a commitment to fighting fraud in our health care system, driving down health care costs and implementing reforms that will add value to our health care system. I look forward to a productive conversation on these and other issues. Should you have any questions regarding this meeting, please contact my office at (202) 690-7000.

Sincerely, Kathleen Sebelius Secretary of Health and Human Services

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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