|Federal Information & News Dispatch, Inc.|
Cantwell to Health and Human Services Official: 'The law says that you're supposed to implement this in 2014. We're very concerned about the approach by the agency in trying to thwart this effort'
Enacted into law as part of the Affordable Care Act, the Cantwell-championed program was designed to give states the option to create a federal Basic Health Plan Option (FBHP) in 2014. But the
Today during a
"The law says that you're supposed to implement this in 2014," Cantwell said to Cohen. "And so we're very concerned about the approach by the agency in trying to thwart this effort."
Cantwell continued: "Can you promise this committee that the agency is not offering any deals to states to get them to take a population that they have been able to achieve more cost effective delivery system for and trying to shove them onto the exchange? As opposed to doing the Basic Health Plan?"
Cohen responded: "I think what we are doing is working with states to identify as much flexibility as we can to ensure continuity of coverage as individuals' incomes change. And to make it possible to provide premium assistance to people to purchase coverage through the exchange."
"What I'm very concerned about is that the agency seems to be thinking that the technology of the exchange is somehow the Holy Grail and you are trying to lure states out of pursuing these co-ops or Basic Health Plan options and lure them onto the exchange because you think it's some sort of magic," Cantwell said at today's hearing.
"And you are ignoring 20 years of experience. At least from my state's perspective 20 years of experience of driving down 20 to 30 percent more cost-effective delivery plans than what these individuals were able to get in the private sector," Cantwell continued. "So we don't want to throw that away. We want it to be implemented. Our read of the statute is that you are supposed to do it in 2014. And not spend your time luring people into the exchange."
Watch a video of Cantwell's entire exchange with Cohen today.
A complete transcript of Cantwell's exchange with Cohen follows:
Senator Cantwell: Thank you Mr. Chairman. You asked our witness to go at it. Don't tell us a bunch of stuff so I'm going to try and encourage the same discussion. And it kind of reminds me already, there is a maxim in politics: 'a campaign does not a candidate make.' That means you don't make somebody just because you have a campaign. And it sounds to me this morning a lot about technology does not make a cost-effective health plan. The details of how to drive down costs make a cost-effective health plan.