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American Health Line

A memo from the head of the American Association of Health Plans (AAHP) states that health insurers have “themselves to blame” for the public backlash against managed care, USA Today reports. Moreover, the AAHP urges members “to consider the example set this month by UnitedHealth Group. In the memo, — sent to more than 1,000 health plan executives — AAHP President Karen Ignagni cited the favorable public reaction to UnitedHealth Group’s recent announcement to end pre-authorization requirements for referrals, tests and hospitalization (Appleby, USA Today, 11/26). Ignagni said the response “has created an extraordinary opportunity for health plans to change the dynamics confronting managed health care … if we have the foresight to take advantage of it” (Wall Street Journal, 11/29). AAHP Medical Director Charles Cutler says the memo is intended to “spur insurers to consider whether ‘other creative approaches to managing health care quality and cost’ are possible” (USA Today, 11/26). Moreover, Ignagni stated that her memo is a “call to action”: Although some HMOs currently are looking to “mollify disgruntled patients, doctors and lawmakers,” Ignagni stressed publicizing the reform measures taken within the industry. HMO critic Jamie Court of Consumers for Quality Care, said, “At least the industry now believes it has something to prove to the public rather than simply being interested in proving to Wall Street that it can limit costs and make a profit” (Appleby, USA Today, 11/29).

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