|By Consillio, Kristen|
Hawaii Health Connector, a nonprofit designed to provide residents access to affordable health insurance, is the first major piece of the federal health care reform. The Connector has a 15-member board, appointed by the governor, which includes three representatives from the insurance industry.
A bill that would have excluded health insurers from the board was not heard in conference committee before Friday's legislative deadline.
"The death of the bill means we're essentially at status quo," said
Several consumer advocacy groups - fearful that insurance industry executives on the board might place their companies' interest above the public's - were disappointed that the bill failed.
"It's a frustrating and disappointing situation when 20,000 emails, letters and calls to the legislators urging adoption of this bill falls on deaf ears," said
"Rather than creating something that was divisive, we want to give people who had started working together an opportunity to do so," she said. "We had every intention of working collaboratively on this bill, but that didn't happen. It seemed to the
"There was no way we were going to get them off," Harbin said. "They ran the clock out. Very honestly
The federal Affordable Care Act requires states to set up health insurance exchanges, which will match uninsured individuals to subsidized health care plans. The law mandates that health insurance exchanges -envisioned as one-stop shops where health plans compete and consumers compare medical plans - be operational nationwide by
However, Baker said the opinions of consumer advocates were taken into consideration.
"They were heard in the legislative process;
"In the end, since (the insurers) are designing the basis of which all of us are mandated to buy insurance, we can never be sure that they're giving us the most favorable health plans," said
Credit: Kristen Consillio
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