Aetna the Latest Insurer to Leave AHIP

The country’s top insurance lobbying group is losing another big member as Aetna has decided not to renew its membership with America's Health Insurance Plans.

The country’s top insurance lobbying group, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), is losing another big member. Aetna has decided not to renew its membership with AHIP, which is now under the new leadership of Marilyn Tavenner, former administrator of CMS.

Aetna has determined that it has the lobbying presence necessary on its own since it added lobbyists and attorneys in anticipation of an antitrust battle over its merger with Humana, according to Forbes

"We will continue to partner with groups that are working, as we are, toward expanding access to high-quality, affordable healthcare,” said Aetna spokesperson Cynthia Michener.

The Hill reported that despite the loss, AHIP has defended its mission. However, one healthcare executive told the website that some see the group as having the goal of advancing President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Karen Ignagni, the long-time leader of AHIP for 22 years, stepped down from her role as president and CEO of the insurance lobbying group in May 2015 to become president and CEO of EmblemHealth, a New York-based insurer. Less than 1 month later, UnitedHealth Group announced that it was planning to leave AHIP, which the company felt no longer represented the interests of it or its customers.

"UnitedHealth Group believes the interest of our company and the customers we serve are no longer best represented by AHIP and accordingly are ending our membership effective June 30," Matt Stearns, spokesman for UnitedHealth, had said in a statement at the time. "AHIP has set forth a strategy and direction it feels best serves a membership profile and need that does not fit UnitedHealth Group and our diversified portfolio."

Now with Aetna leaving, and potential mergers between Aetna and Humana and between Anthem and Cigna, AHIP will only represent 1 of the 3 big insurers in the United States.

However, both UnitedHealth and Aetna have both stayed with Medicaid Health Plans of America, which represents most of the same insurers as AHIP, Forbes reported.