The big health care news of today isn’t regarding budget or legislation, but a confirmation hearing. Dale Bonner is up this afternoon in Senate Rules Committee to be approved in his post as Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing. In that Cabinet post, Bonner oversees the Department of Managed Health Care.
This Capitol Weekly article today explains some of the concerns that legislators have raised about the Department’s oversight of insurers like Blue Cross.
As the hearing today, Health Access and other consumer groups will be raising significant issues as well, about the DMHC’s pattern of deferring to the regulated industry, while ignoring consumer concerns. (UPDATE: Here’s Health Access’ letter to the Senate Rules Committee.)
The most obvious case is the proposed regulation of timely access to care, where the Department reversed years of drafts of setting clear standards for timely access standards, and instead submitted regulations to let the HMOs set their own standards.
There’s other cases, with regard to the implementation of language access rules, and the proposed regulations on discount health plans, where the DMHC has abdicated their oversight role to the industry in question. It’s a pattern that needs to change.