Insurance giant WellPoint slams WH rhetoric

WellPoint CEO Angela Braly has blasted the White House for allegations against her company that she said "grossly misrepresents" reality.

Braly is upset with allegations that the embattled insurer has been singling out women with breast cancer to dump them off its rolls.

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In a sharply worded letter dated Sunday that was obtained by The Hill, Braly told President Obama she was “disappointed to hear you repeat false information” during the president’s weekly address. She said WellPoint in 2009 covered about 200,000 women with breast cancer at a cost of almost $2 billion and rescinded only four policies.

The letter comes as federal regulators prepare to issue guidance on a host of provisions created by the new health care overhaul. Stakeholders, especially insurance companies, have until now been casting themselves as eager to work collaboratively with the Department of Health and Human Services and have committed to making a number of changes even before the new law requires them to.

HHS and the Treasury and Labor departments this morning issued guidance on a provision requiring insurers to allow children to stay on their parents’ health plans until they turn 26.  The preliminary rule, on which the public is invited to weigh in, would allow both married and unmarried children to qualify, but does not extend to young adults who currently have insurance offered through their job. A number of insurers – including WellPoint – have vowed to offer dependent coverage this month even though the new law only requires them to do so starting Sept. 23.

Regulators are also seeking public comment on new rules requiring health plans to spend a minimum portion of customers’ premiums on health care rather than administrative costs.

“Mr. President,” Braly wrote, “this country has a long history of coming together after tough debates. The implementation of the new health care reform law should be no different. If we are going to make this law work on behalf of all Americans, the attacks on the health insurance industry – an industry that provides valued coverage for more than 200 million Americans – must end.”