Spokesman-Review: Premera’s Lobbying Leads to Dropped Health Database Requirement
The Spokesman-Review published the following story by John Webster on Sunday, March 2, 2014.
Premera Blue Cross’ lobbying leads to dropped health database requirement
by John Webster
Lobbying behind closed doors, Washington’s largest health insurance company persuaded Republicans in the state Senate to gut a widely supported bill that aimed to reveal health care price and quality information to consumers.
The battle pits Premera Blue Cross against a broad coalition representing just about everyone who buys, uses, provides or shapes health care: small and large businesses, consumer advocates, tribes, hospitals, doctors, nurses, the governor, the insurance commissioner, the agency that governs insurance for state employees and the poor, and even Premera’s competitors.
That coalition seeks more than sunlight on the industry’s finances; it also backs a comprehensive new statewide plan to change the way the industry operates.
The battle focuses on House Bill 2572, which passed the state House of Representatives and came up for a hearing Thursday in the Senate Health Care Committee. After some fiery testimony, committee Chairwoman Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, stripped the bill’s most controversial section and passed it on to the Ways and Means Committee for further action. She did so without explanation. A lobbyist for Premera stepped to the microphone and thanked her, but said little about the reasons for his gratitude.
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