Result could be outsourcing of over 3,000 Wisconsin jobs and higher health insurance rates
Madison: At a public hearing this afternoon on the proposed merger between two of the five largest health insurers in the U.S., the Walker Administration signaled support for approving the merger of Humana and Aetna without any conditions to protect Wisconsin workers or health consumers.
At the close of the hearing staff for the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) recommended approval of the merger without substantive pre-conditions. At the hearing, lawyers for Humana and Aetna advocated for the merger, while representatives of health consumers raised concerns about increased insurance rates and the possible outsourcing of over 3,000 Humana jobs in Green Bay.
The lawyers representing Aetna and Humana touted $1.7 billion in savings due to the merger, but did not comment on whether these savings came in part from outsourcing jobs in Wisconsin. OCI has broad authority under Wisconsin law to either block the merger or set conditions to protect the interest of consumers and workers. Earlier this week Senator Dave Hansen and Representative Eric Genrich asked OCI to require that there be no net job reductions as a result of the merger.
Last week 18 organizations advocating for consumers and workers sent a letter to the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance raising concerns about the merger.
The CEO of Humana, Bruce Broussard, will receive a golden parachute of over $40 million as a result of the deal.
“It is imperative that Wisconsin not allow big insurance companies to further rig the health care system against health consumers and workers,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “This goliath will have an outsized influence in health insurance markets across the nation. If the outgoing CEO of Humana is getting a $40 million dollar golden parachute, the least they can do is guarantee Wisconsinites that their health insurance premiums will not not skyrocket and jobs will not be outsourced.”
The Walker Administration could block the merger, or it could impose conditions. Some of the conditions suggested in the letter from advocates for consumers and workers include
Requiring premium stability or heightened rate control for a number of years post-merger.
Requiring that the merged company pass along any cost savings associated with the merger to consumers, in the form of lower premiums and deductibles.
Requiring the merged company to enter the Wisconsin Exchange.
Citizen Action of Wisconsin further proposes that the new company should guarantee no reduction in its Wisconsin workforce. Humana currently employees over 3,000 people in Green Bay and 3,700 workers statewide.
Robert Kraig (414) 322-5324 firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Kane (414) 550-8280 email@example.com