Medicaid remains attractive market

Independence Blue Cross is prepared to capitalize on the opportunity

Insurers continue to move forward on provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and Daniel J. Hilferty, CEO of Independence Blue Cross, says competition among plans will increase.

IBC’s AmeriHealth Mercy unit operates Medicaid plans in 15 states, but Hilferty says he isn’t able to speculate on how many states will go forward with the law’s Medicaid expansion. However, he believes that budgetary pressures will influence the state’s decisions just as much as policy will. He says, even so, coverage is lacking today.

“Having roughly 50 million people uninsured or who have fallen through the cracks in other ways is not the way for a healthcare system to operate,” he says.

Many states have made managed Medicaid the mandatory program default or at least have adopted it as an option for beneficiaries. Hilferty says another 12 million to 15 million lives will be added to managed Medicaid under the reform law.

“From a business perspective it is a very, very sound business direction for us to head,” he says.

In a statement, the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, however, expresses some concern. “We hope states choose to do the right thing. But we cannot base federal policy on hope alone. NAPH urges Congress to avert a potentially disastrous outcome for vulnerable populations by immediately reevaluating safety net funding in light of this decision.”