Health insurers laud Burwell ahead of hearing

 

Health insurance companies heaped praise on Sylvia Burwell late Wednesday ahead of her first confirmation hearing for the position of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary.

The statement from Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), signaled what is likely to be a smooth path to confirmation for the current White House budget director.

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"As we move forward with implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Sylvia Matthews Burwell’s distinguished leadership and her notable experience in both the private and public sectors make her uniquely qualified to lead HHS during this critical time," Ignagni stated.

"She has a strong track record as an effective manager who works with leaders across the political aisle. As health plans prepare for the next open enrollment period, we look forward to working with her."

The relationship between insurers and the administration, particularly HHS, is critical for the success of the Affordable Care Act.

Last fall, the alliance was put to the test as technical problems at HealthCare.gov thwarted millions of consumers and required insurers to pursue laborious workarounds.

Though the worst is over, Burwell's approach will still have the power to raise or lower insurers' satisfaction with the system. She will also take the reins at a critical time for the still-in-progress small business exchange.

Burwell goes before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Thursday.

While Democrats have the votes to confirm her on the floor, Republicans are expected to use each juncture as an opportunity to criticize the administration and the Affordable Care Act.