Yesterday I was honored to testify before the Department of HHS Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (COOP) Advisory Board regarding implementation of the federal reform COOP Program in the state exchanges.
Non-profit, member-run COOPs can be important tools in America’s strategy to improve health care quality and reduce growth in costs. Technically, labor and employer jointly-governed Taft-Hartley health funds are not COOPs, as defined in the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). Nevertheless, the breadth of Labor’s experience in continuous operation of non-profit, self-funded health plans is unparalleled in the American experience. Labor unions and their employer partners jointly govern approximately 3,000 plans covering lives of 23 million American workers, dependents, and retirees.
Leading labor-management health plans are innovators at the cutting edge of patient-centered integration and coordinated delivery of care. No one has longer or more diverse experience in managing plans that are responsive to the needs of their members.
A well-designed, well-run COOP health plan can provide a competitive alternative to for-profit insurance plans in the state exchange.. As such, COOP health plans can become important components of a comprehensive strategy to reduce health costs and drive continuous improvement in the quality of care for all Americans.
If that’s the mission, labor and its management partners have a shared stake in its success.
The equation is simple: Labor unions bring experience and expertise that state exchange COOPs will need. When it comes to launching and operating COOPs, unions deserve places at the table. COOPs will be better off. So will the working families they serve.