- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2018

America’s Health Insurance Plans, the main lobbying group for health insurers, announced Wednesday it is promoting one of its own to replace president and CEO Marilyn Tavenner, a former Obama administration official who is retiring in a few months.

AHIP said Matt Eyles, the chief operating officer and who once led the group’s policy work on health reform and drug pricing, will take over June 1.

“It is an honor to represent insurance providers and the members they serve,” Mr. Eyles said. “We will continue to focus on solutions that deliver more affordable choices and higher quality for every American.”

The group thanked Ms. Tavenner, who joined AHIP after overseeing the rocky rollout of Obamacare’s web exchanges as administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The poor launch prompted an apology from her agency, which said the launch hadn’t lived up to expectations.

HealthCare.gov rebounded after a rescue mission, and Ms. Tavenner moved on to AHIP in 2015 to advocate for insurers in the final years of Mr. Obama’s tenure and the start of President Trump’s.

Bernard J. Tyson, AHIP Board Chair and Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, said Ms. Tavenner “delivered real results for AHIP and our industry in a time of extraordinary change and uncertainty.”

As it stands, the lobby is imploring Congress to inject certainly into Obamacare’s wobbly markets.

The 2010 program failed to attract enough healthy customers, resulting in a costly customer base, and Mr. Trump and his Republican allies have taken steps to unwind the law.

Most notably, the GOP tax bill repealed the “individual mandate” to hold insurance or pay a tax. Insurers counted on it as the main prod to get enrollees to sign up.

AHIP wants Congress to reverse their potential losses by funding both “cost-sharing” payments, which reimburse insurers for picking up low-income customers’ costs, and “reinsurance” programs that pick up the tab for extra-pricey consumers, so others can pay less.

Many conservatives say the programs would “bail out” insurers and entrench the law, making attempts to repeal it even more difficult.

But moderate Republicans say the measures are needed to bring down prices, especially for people who don’t qualify for taxpayer subsidies under Obamacare.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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