National Center for Public Policy Research press release


For Release: April 22, 2015
Contact:
Judy Kent at (703) 759-7476 or jkent@nationalcenter.org or David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or (703) 568-4727 (text enabled) or dalmasi@nationalcenter.org

 

Free-Market Activist Shares ObamaCare Alternatives with Major Health Care Insurer

With U.S. Supreme Court Possibly Poised to Deal Crippling Blow to ObamaCare, National Center for Public Policy Research Presents Cigna Directors With "Baker's Dozen" of Free-Market Health Care Reform Ideas

Shareholder Advocacy Dispels Left-Wing Narrative that Conservatives Lack Viable Alternatives to ObamaCare

 

Windsor, CT / Washington, D.C. - At Cigna's annual meeting of shareholders, held today in Windsor, Connecticut, a representative of the free-market National Center for Public Policy Research criticized the massive health insurance company for its continued support of ObamaCare despite a legal challenge that could derail the federal government's attempt to take over American health care.

Cigna executives responded by claiming they feel they are part of an "evolving" process in which the company is working with both sides of the politicial aisle, but Cigna executives did not address how the company is dealing with the Obama Administration's go-it-alone approach to governing.

Exploding the liberal claim that conservatives lack alternatives to the Obama Administration's risky and failing health care scheme, the National Center presented Cigna's directors with information about 13 free-market alternatives to ObamaCare, which they accepted.

"Whether or not the U.S. Supreme Court deals a death blow to ObamaCare this June, it's clear that ObamaCare is rife with pitfalls and poor policy that is only going to continue to hurt the delivery of safe and sensibly-priced health care," said National Center Executive Director David W. Almasi. Almasi was representing the National Center's Free Enterprise Project and National Center Chairman Amy Ridenour, a Cigna shareholder. "We made a plea to Cigna that the time to embrace free-market reforms is now, and they were given more than a dozen alternatives to help end the fatally-flawed ObamaCare era."

At the meeting, Almasi noted the U.S. Supreme Court will rule soon on a case that may unravel key elements of ObamaCare -- providing an opportunity for the country to institute market-based reforms that can both control costs and improve patient care. In his prepared remarks, Almasi noted:

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.

Cigna effectively endorsed the potentially unlawful action by the Obama Administration that is at issue in the case through its membership in America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). An industry trade association, AHIP submitted an amicus legal brief to the Court in the King case that defended ObamaCare and its subsidy-laden structure.

At the shareholder meeting, Almasi asked:

[W]ith the opportunity to unravel the extremely unpopular ObamaCare law that fails to address the root of America's health care problems, why did Cigna 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?

Responding to Almasi's question, Cigna President and CEO David M. Cordani said Cigna's leadership is concerned that "if you pull out one aspect [of ObamaCare], there are follow-on consequences that go along with it."

Cordani and Cigna Chairman Isaiah Harris, Jr. -- who also addressed Almasi's question -- said that the company is working with lawmakers "on both sides of the aisle" and with the Obama Administration to find "way[s] to rapidly evolve the system" to where incentives replace mandates.

This was reiterated to Almasi by Harris after the conclusion of the meeting, but Harris did not respond when Almasi asked him how the company is dealing with an Obama Administration that has largely sought to rule unilaterally and to condemn critics rather than seeking to work with them.

"It's all well and good to want to evolve the system, as Cigna executives say they want to do. But the Obama Administration's alleged 'plan B' in the King case is to unilaterally declare states can keep the status quo and say they are subcontracting to the federal exchange. That's not evolution, and Cigna's approach would seem to turn a blind eye to this," said Almasi. "The bright side is that Cigna officials said they are always open to new ideas, and the board members now have more than a dozen new and free-market ideas which I hope they will incorporate into their evolutionary mindset."

Almasi's full question, as prepared for delivery, is available here.

To ensure Cigna's corporate leadership is aware of the many free-market alternatives to the existing ObamaCare scheme, Almasi provided each member of the Cigna board of directors 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 National Center health care policy analyst David Hogberg, Ph.D. Directors were also provided with a spreadsheet that detailed 13 conservative ObamaCare alternatives.

As Dr. Hogberg explained in a press release about the analysis, "[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."

"Health care insurers and providers may feel compelled to support the ObamaCare status quo out of fear of political retribution and an addiction to its subsidies. But ObamaCare appears to be unviable over the long term. It's smart business to investigate alternatives, and the National Center provided that to Cigna. In the interest of the public good, it's our hope that Cigna will give these free-market options a fair investigation," added Almasi.

The National Center's Free Enterprise Project is the nation's preeminent free-market activist group focusing on corporations. 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 appearance at Cigna's annual meeting of shareholders marks the seventh 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. Sign up for free issue alerts here.

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