Insurer group claims Steward “misled” public

BOSTON (STATE HOUSE) – Hours before the Senate dismissed a proposal directing MassHealth to contract with provider groups, the lobby group that represents health insurers submitted alternative language to one of the major proponents of the idea.

The Massachusetts Association of Health Plans has expressed concern that the proposal backed by Steward Health Care would allow providers to act like insurance companies – a charge Steward has unequivocally denied.

While it was rejected in the Senate, the House adopted a budget amendment directing the state’s Medicaid program to contract with a provider to start an accountable care organization – a group where providers take on some of the risk for caring for a population.

The News Service reported last week that Steward chief strategist David Morales said the company had not received an alternative proposal in writing from the health plans. Subsequently, the association laid out its version of events with an email chain.

After 2 p.m. on the final day of Senate budget deliberations, Jason Aluia, a lobbyist for the health plans, emailed Kerry Whelan, a lobbyist for Steward, with alternative language that removed aspects of the proposal the plans found objectionable.

Aluia in his email indicated that Massachusetts Association of Health Plans (MAHP) President Lora Pellegrini had discussed the proposal earlier, and Whelan replied, “Thx…running it up the flagpole,” according to emails provided by MAHP.

“The fact that they knowingly and intentionally misled State House News, the public and legislators to push this bad idea should give policymakers pause and the budget conferees should hold this item in conference,” MAHP spokesman Eric Linzer said in a statement.

“MAHP has never offered a real compromise. In fact, the health insurance lobbying organization has only restated its opposition and is doing everything it can to protect insurance company profits. That’s their role,” Morales said in a statement Monday when asked about the discrepancy.

Copyright 2015 State House News Service

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