May 22, 2017

Free-Market Activists Plan to Question Humana Executives About Willingness to Work with Trump, Congress on Health Care Reform

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:

Humana’s Steadfast Support of ObamaCare Could Lose Company a Seat at the Table in Setting New Health Care Agenda

After Working with Liberal Politicians to Advance Obama-Era Failed Health Care Policies, Humana Owes it to American People to Work with Trump Team and Congressional Conservatives

Louisville, KY / Washington, DC – At this week’s annual meeting of Humana shareholders, the nation’s leading proponent of free-market investor activism plans to offer the insurer’s executives an opportunity to repudiate its long-standing support for failed ObamaCare policies and embrace market-based alternatives advanced by the White House and some members of Congress.

Humana’s shareholder meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 20, 2017, at the company’s headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky.  This will be the third time a representative of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project(FEP) has attended a Humana shareholder meeting.

“This is the third time we will address Humana executives about ObamaCare’s failings, and we hope they will have a more open mind this time,” said National Center General Counsel and FEP Director Justin Danhof, Esq., who plans to attend on Thursday and participated in a past Humana shareholder meeting.  “With President Trump determined to set a new course on health care policy and the congressional leadership behind his efforts, Humana risks losing a seat at the table if they continue to provide support for a system they won’t even work with anymore.” 

On April 20, the National Center will post the text of its prepared question for Humana executives prominently on the National Center website after the shareholder meeting starts (which can be accessed here after posting).  Any comments from the Free Enterprise Project after the meeting will be also be available on the site (directly accessible here ) within hours of the conclusion of the meeting.

At previous shareholder meetings, Humana CEO Bruce Broussard refused to cede any ground to National Center representatives who questioned him about the company’s support for ObamaCare.  In 2014, when the National Center’s David Hogberg, Ph.D. asked Broussard if Humana would pledge not to take a bailout from ObamaCare’s “risk adjustment” scheme, Broussard refused and said the money would “ensure that our members have an affordable plan.”  In 2015, Danhof questioned Humana’s support of ObamaCare through an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case of King v. Burwelldespite the Humana website noting ObamaCare “falls short in addressing. . . rising costs.”  Danhof brought copies of a dozen free-market ObamaCare alternatives to that meeting and asked Broussard to consider working with conservatives on a free-market alternative.  Broussard would not commit to working with conservatives, but Humana recently announced plans to exit ObamaCare’s health care exchanges in 2018.

“Humana and other large insurance companies worked in lock-step with the Obama Administration and liberal congressmembers to advance, promote and defend ObamaCare.  We repeatedly brought concerns over ObamaCare’s market-distorting schemes to their attention, but our concerns were dismissed. Now that Humana and other insurers are exiting many ObamaCare exchanges and otherwise suffering the ill effects of the law, the timing is optimal for a new path forward,” said Danhof.  “While the most recent congressional effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare has stalled, there will be plenty of opportunities to enact change.  Humana owes it to the American people to work with President Trump and Congress to craft policies that expand access to care and drive down health care costs.”

Earlier this year, another health care provider indicated to the National Center that it would be willing to work on replacing ObamaCare.  Walgreens Boots Alliance Chairman James Skinner told Danhof at the pharmacy giant’s annual shareholder meeting that his company would be willing to work with the Trump Administration in finding a free-market alternative to ObamaCare.

Launched in 2007, the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group – focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business.  Since 2014, National Center representatives have participated in nearly 100 shareholder meetings to advance free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and many other important public policy issues.  The Humana meeting will mark FEP’s fifth shareholder meeting attended so far in 2017.

The National Centers Free Enterprise Project activism has yielded a tremendous return on investment:

  • FEPs highly-publicized questioning of support for the Clinton Foundation by Boeing and General Electric helped trigger an FBI investigation of the Clinton Foundations activities that dominated the 2016 presidential campaign.  
  • FEP inquiries prompted Facebook to address political bias against conservatives in social media.
  •  Company executives acknowledged media bias at ABC News (Disney), the Washington Post and CNN (Time Warner) in response to FEPs challenges, which helped to bring about more objective reporting and more balanced political representation.
  • FEPs Employee Conscience Protection Project strengthened protections for the political beliefs and activities of over five million workers at 13 major U.S. corporations.
So far in 2017, media featuring the FEP has included the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Breitbart, WorldNetDaily, Drudge Report, Business Insider, CNET, National Public Radio, American Family Radio and SiriusXM. In 2016, the FEP was also featured in the Washington Times, the Fox News Channel’s “Cavuto,” the Financial Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, the Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune, Newsmax, the Daily Caller, Lifezette, theSeattle Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune among many others.  The Free Enterprise Project was also featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kimberley Strassels 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech(Hachette Book Group).

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank.  Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations.  It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.  Sign up for email updates here.  Follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter for general announcements.  To be alerted to upcoming media appearances by National Center staff, follow our media appearances Twitter account at@NCPPRMedia.

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Humana Asked to Explain Continued Support for ObamaCare

Free Market Group Asks Major Health Insurer for to Explain Continued Support for ObamaCare

As U.S. Supreme Court Considers Case that May Unravel ObamaCare, National Center for Public Policy Presents Humana Board with a Baker’s Dozen of Free-Market Health Care Reform Plans

Left-Wing Narrative that Conservatives Have No Viable Health Care Alternatives to ObamaCare is False

Atlanta, GA/Washington, DC – At today’s annual meeting of Humana shareholders in Atlanta, Georgia, the National Center for Public Policy Research questioned the health insurance giant’s continued support for ObamaCare in the face of new legal challenges and, rebutting the left-wing narrative that conservatives have to alternatives to ObamaCare, presented the company’s leaders with a baker’s dozen of free-market health care alternatives to ObamaCare.

“The basic message that I took away from Humana’s CEO Bruce Broussard is that since ObamaCare is the law of the land, the company must work with the parameters of that law. Well, Jim Crow, prohibition and the alien and sedition acts were all once laws too, but America rightly disposed of those relics,” said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq.

At the meeting, Danhof pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court recently heard a case that could unravel ObamaCare and provide an opportunity for market-based reforms that control costs while improving patient care. He stated:

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell, a case that could potentially alter the landscape of the American health care system and provide an opportunity for true market-oriented reforms. As written, the Affordable Care Act was intended to force states to set up health insurance exchanges. Many chose not to. Contrary to the rule of law, the Obama Administration patched this gap with a regulatory fix so that individuals in states without exchanges could purchase insurance on the federal exchange and receive taxpayer-provided subsidies.

Humana fully backed the Administration’s potentially unlawful action.

Humana is a member of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) an industry trade association that wrote an amicus brief defending the Affordable Care Act and its current subsidy-laden structure.

Danhof also asked:

[Given] the opportunity to unravel the extremely unpopular ObamaCare law that, in your own words, fails to address the root of America’s health care problems, why did Humana choose to support ObamaCare’s current structure in the King case? And, if the plaintiffs prevail in the case, would you be willing to consider working with conservative and free market leaders to enact market-based patient-centric solutions such as those outlined in the plans I am presenting you with today

Humana’s CEO, Bruce D. Broussard, responded:

I think at Humana, we have one fundamental belief and that is that individuals have the right to receive health care. And we as an organization are supporting that in multiple different ways, I think as you look at where we have our businesses – Medicare Advantage, Part B, are two great examples of that. We have stated on many occasions that any law, existing or in-the-future laws are not perfect and I think some of the details around the existing specific exchanges need to have some changes. We are always look[ing] for input from various different organizations to do that, we provide our input and we continue to want to make it better. And so our goal is to improve it, and improve it in a way that continues to improve choice, affordability and access to care.

Danhof’s full question, as prepared for delivery, is available here and an audio recording of the exchange between Danhof and Broussard is available here.

“Broussard’s statement that health care is a right is an odd one. It certainly isn’t provided for in the Constitution – and millions of Americans make rational decisions to either self-insure or refuse to purchase health insurance. Furthermore, he runs an insurance company. If health care is a right, is he saying his company must pay for every procedure from every person who wants coverage? From cradle to grave?,” asked Danhof.

“Broussard defended AHIP’s amicus brief,” noted Danhof. “That brief did not address the core issue in King v. Burwell, which is whether the ObamaCare law allows for paying a subsidy for anyone who purchased health insurance from anything other than a state-constructed exchange. That’s the only issue on the table. Yet AHIP submitted a brief that mentions nothing about this from a truly legal perspective, but instead is really a curious list of policy preferences submitted with an appeal that the Court uphold ObamaCare’s current structure.”

“After the meeting, Broussard and other company executives approached me and did seem very interested in reviewing the market-based plans that I presented. No matter how the Court rules in the King case, I am hopeful that Humana will learn from its past mistakes and begin to work with conservatives and libertarians towards cost-saving, patient-centric health care solutions.”

“Humana and AHIP have tremendous clout to move the needle on health care policy discussions. It shouldn’t be solely up to conservative and free-market organizations such as the National Center for Public Policy Research to fight for the market-based health care system that can best serve the needs of the American public. Industry could be a force for good, and it is choosing not to be, which is regrettable.”

Danhof provided each Humana board member with a copy of “If Plaintiffs Prevail in King v. Burwell, Conservatives and Libertarians Have Many Health Care Reform Options Ready to Help People who Lose ObamaCare Subsidies,” a National Policy Analysis paper authored by the National Center’s senior fellow for health care policy, David Hogberg, Ph.D .

Danhof also provided each board member with a copy of a Google document detailing the parameters of each of 13 market-based reform plans.

As Dr. Hogberg explained in a press release announcing his paper, “[t]he political left is trying to scare people by saying that the political right has no plan to help those people if they lose their subsidies. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

“It is possible that Humana and other health insurers continue to support ObamaCare because the Administration has been quick to extend favors to large health insurers as the American people face fines and, in many instances, dramatically increased health care costs under the ACA,” said Danhof.

As written, ObamaCare provides a taxpayer-funded bailout to the insurance industry under various risk adjustment provisions. Humana may reportedly reap $450 million from these provisions. At last year’s Humana shareholder meeting, the National Center asked Humana’s CEO to reject this taxpayer bailout and he immediately declined. As it turns out, at that time, the health insurance industry was busy working hand-in-hand with the Obama White House to take even more taxpayer money.

Last July, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform issued a report showing how health insurance executives and lobbyists worked closely with senior Obama Administration advisor Valarie Jarrett to increase this taxpayer-funded health insurance bailout.

At the time, Danhof commented on the importance on not only calling out the Obama Administration, but also corporate America for its role in the ills of the Affordable Care Act:

By exposing the industry and applying pressure on companies who willingly take taxpayer bailouts, the reputational risk to the likes of Aetna and Humana may start to outweigh the taxpayer largess.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform report clearly shows that the Obama Administration appears more than willing to do the bidding of the health insurance industry. This means is vital to cut the snake off at its head before it can request even more taxpayer bailouts.

“If the plaintiffs prevail in the King case, conservatives and libertarians stand ready with comprehensive free-market health care reform plans. In the meantime, insurance industry leaders need to be held accountable for their role in the continuing failure that is ObamaCare,” said Danhof. “The Free Enterprise Project will do just that.”

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market corporate activist group. In 2014, Free Enterprise Project representatives participated in 52 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers rights and many other important public policy issues.

Today’s Humana meeting marks the sixth shareholder meeting for the National Center in 2015.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.

The National Center for Public Policy Research was founded in 1982. Sign up for free issue alerts here.

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Taxpayers Should Plan for Insurance Company Bailouts

Humana Chief Broussard Says Humana Will Not Reject Taxpayer Funds if it Incurs Losses on ObamaCare Exchange

Humana May Take up to $450 Million in Taxpayer Money from ObamaCare Risk Adjustment Provisions, Including the Risk Corridor

Taxpayers Should Not Be Forced to Shield Humana From Risky Business Decisions, Health Policy Expert Says

Tampa, FL /Washington DC – Responding to a question about ObamaCare’s risk corridors at Humana’s shareholder meeting today, Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard declined to promise that the health insurance industry giant will reject taxpayer bailouts. Broussard was responding to a question from David Hogberg, Ph.D. of the National Center for Public Policy Research, who asked, in part:

In February, Forbes reported that Humana planned to take up between $250 million and $450 million from the “risk adjustment mechanisms in ObamaCare” including the risk corridor. Then in March, the Obama Administration proposed changes to the ACA that may increase this potential bailout for insurers in 2015 by ballooning the amount that taxpayers may have to pay insurers for company losses.

The taxpayers are already on the hook for so much of this law. So, my question to you is, if the situation arises where Humana qualifies for taxpayer money through the risk corridor, can we get your promise that you will reject it?

Broussard replied:

No, we will not make that promise.

I think, as a supporter of our members and continuing to strive to ensure that our members have an affordable plan, that’s one of the opportunities that is presented in being able to fulfill that.

One side comment to that, I think that’s an important aspect of that as a result of the Affordable Care Act, that there is a significant industry fee that is helping support the… ah… particular reinsurance that you are referring to — and risk corridors, and so on. The reinsurance fee for Humana this year is close to $700 million. That is not a tax-deductible expense — so, in some ways, that particular reinsurance in all the corridors that you are referring to are… is actually financed by the industry overall.

Thank you for your question.

“I ‘m disappointed but not surprised by Broussard’s response,” Hogberg said. “Getting involved in the ObamaCare exchanges is risky, and insurers would be much less likely to take that risk unless a government bailout was in place. Nevertheless, taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to shield Humana or any other insurance company from risky business decisions.”

An audio recording of the exchange is available online here, and David Hogberg’s full question, as prepared for delivery, is available here.

David Hogberg is one of the nation’s leading health care policy analysts, and a frequent media commentator on health care issues. So far in 2014, he has been a TV or radio guest 85 times, and been cited by newspapers over 100 times.

Various publications by Dr. Hogberg are available here, and his March 11 testimony at the U.S. Senate on the problems with government-run health care systems can be viewed here.

David Hogberg appeared at the Humana meeting representing National Center Chairman Amy Ridenour, a Humana shareholder.

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is a leading free-market corporate activist group. In 2013, Free Enterprise Project representatives attended 33 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, media bias, gun rights and many other important public policy issues. Today’s Humana meeting was the National Center’s 13th attendance at a shareholder meeting so far in 2014.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, three percent from foundations, and three percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.Contributions are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.

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