Moving Forward After Senate Vote on Health Reform Repeal

The following message is from Mark Bertolini, Aetna CEO and President

On Feb. 2, 2011, during consideration of the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act, the Senate voted 51 to 47 to reject Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) amendment to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Coming just two weeks after the House voted in favor of repeal, the vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate comes as Senate Republicans have chosen to keep this issue on the front burner and on the front page.

The Senate did vote to remove a piece of the new health care law, known as the 1099 requirement, that was considered a burden on business.  This amendment to repeal the 1099 tax provision was passed in bipartisan fashion, 81-17. This piece will now have to go to vote in the House of Representatives.

The Senate vote on overall repeal is a reminder that the issues driving legislative action on health care reform will continue for some time. Americans remain concerned about health care costs and the extent of the government’s role in health care.

Further complicating the picture, the constitutionality of the health care law also is in question. A federal judge in Florida this week ruled the health care law unconstitutional, as has a federal judge in Virginia. With two other federal judges having upheld the law, it seems clear the legal issues are destined to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court sometime in the next year or two.

Aetna remains committed to access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans.  We also remain committed to implementing the law correctly. We must keep the political and legal landscapes in sight but maintain a responsible course that includes delivering our expertise to those making the rules and ensuring that we are providing value to consumers and to our customers.
As I stated previously, our job going forward remains three-fold:

  • First, we must work with all key players in the health care reform process to correctly and efficiently implement the law of the land.
  • Second, we must continue to be a strong and constructive advocate for a regulatory environment that encourages competition, choice and flexibility for the states and the American consumer.
  • And third, we must work with lawmakers to refocus the debate on the challenges that are left before us - unintended consequences, cost reduction and quality improvement.

I’m hopeful that the ongoing discussions in Congress will move beyond politics and get to the real work of fixing what needs to be fixed so that we can be in a better position to deliver value for our customers.