Consumer groups are calling for the resignation of one of the board members for the state’s health insurance exchange board, which will determine the new marketplace for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Eric Grossman, vice president of Trizetto, has come under fire from two consumer groups for his close ties to the insurance industry. Trizetto is a Denver-based business with about 2,000 workers that provides information technology and payment solutions to insurance companies. Two of the company’s board members are from Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
The Colorado Public Interest Research Group has called for Grossman’s resignation, as has the Colorado Consumer Health Initative.
A Democrat, Grossman was chosen for the board by Gov. John Hickenlooper.
DeDe DePercin, executive director of the consumer group, Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, says the new board has too many ties to the insurance industry. Four of the nine members are either from the industry or have very close ties to it, she said.
“CCHI calls on Eric Grossman to resign from the newly formed Health Benefit Exchange Board,” she said in a statement. “ As a health industry insider, his appointment tips the scales away from a board concerned with meeting the healthcare cost, coverage and quality needs of small businesses, individuals and families and toward the interests of insurers.”
DePercin said that many of the company’s clients stand to benefit directly from the development of the exchange.
“This, combined with Grossman’s published statements about the potential profitability of the health benefits exchange, raises serious concerns for Colorado’s consumers,” she said.
Grossman wrote a white paper claiming that insurance exchanges were gold for the insurance industry.
DePercin said she fears that the marketplace will be influenced by the industry, affecting oversight and high standards.
“If decisions about this new competitive marketplace are disproportionately influenced by the insurance industry, Colorado will not have the reliable information, strict oversight and high standards needed to create affordable choices in the exchange,” she said.
Grossman is refusing to step down, instead saying that his experience with the industry – particularly high tech information technology, can only benefit the exchange.
“We have such deep knowledge about the way insurance works,” he said. “It’s knowledge that can only come from working within the industry – it’s 17 percent of our GDP, and health care is complex.”
Trizetto mainly deals with claims and payments, a layer of health care that most people don’t see, he said.
“I want to do this, because I want to help the state,” he said. “I was born here, raised here – Trizetto is based in Denver.”
The company also has taken steps to quell the criticism. It has recused itself from bidding on any business that comes from the health insurance exchanges in the future.
“I understand their concerns, particularly because the governor’s office asked us not to speak publicly until after the first meeting,” he said. “I believe I can be completely objective, and I believe that recusing ourselves from any business activities involved with the exchange should end the criticism.”
To read previous coverage about the exchanges, click here.